Nervous Breakdown — Inspired … Refreshing … Natural Storyteller
The Nervous Breakdown recently published Nik Korpon’s review of Tracks: A Novel in Stories. Here are some key excerpts from the stellar review …
…another nice touch by Goodman [is] this constant reevaluation of characters after being observed in later stories. In the same way trains cars rock and sway, our perception of earlier characters—the old and rigid Prewitt, the immature Malcolm and Tina, the woman (Demi) whose tattoo snares the lascivious attention of most men on the train—sways with each successive story. Who we thought the characters were from observation isn’t exactly who they are once we’re inside their head.
Goodman’s prose feels inspired by this same romance of trains that tinges the book. He is a natural storyteller, one who takes time in unfurling these lives, showing us things we wouldn’t see from the highway of grocery-store fiction. In an age of high-speed internet, Facebook lives and thoughts that only last 140 characters, it’s refreshing to see a book with such unhurried attention to character. In the same way that train rides make time seem liquid, maybe non-existent, the narrative-time of Tracks bends and contorts to encompass large swatches of the characters’ lives. In Live Cargo, Helen, an older women returning from a visit the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, slips between her childhood experience of trains—a stockade car full of people on the way to a Nazi death camp—and her time in the museum. She tries to swipe away visions from her childhood, “charred piles of bodies, blackened flesh clinging to faces like the burnt skin of overcooked marshmallows.” Reset features Gene Silverman, the reinvented persona of Eugene Beckett, an identity-theft wiz-kid who now speaks as an activist for the legalization of recreational drugs, prostitution and gambling. The story shifts between his rise through the criminal ranks and his quick flight from the life. Goodman’s steady hand lets the reader move between these potentially jarring shifts with ease, swaying through time like a car on the rails.
Like a train-ride itself, it’s not the arrival at the other station that’s the important part. It’s all of the things you see, people like the characters in Tracks who you meet along the way. They stay in your head, long after the final page is turned.
Read the entire review at The Nervous Breakdown: