The Reviews are On Track
This is by no means a complete list, but here are some of the magazines, journals, newspapers, book bloggers, websites, and periodicals that have reviewed or covered Tracks.
New York Journal of Books:
“… Goodman is a born storyteller who weaves his tales of each individual character, and then ties them together to create a finely patterned cloth … you have the more transcendent experience of seeing each of the characters from many perspectives, at times understanding not only their “now” but something of their past and future.
“Many of the reviews written of this book point out that it’s a great summer read. This is true. It’s the kind of book that you can read best at a leisurely pace, enjoying the slower rhythms of this literary ‘people watching.’”
“Like a collection of one-act plays, each scene is a tightly scripted vignette highlighting the life of a single character. And while each chapter of the novel is a standalone story, characters have roles to play in several.
“The author has a knack for easily and quickly evoking a sense of place, here deftly describing the seasonal life in Baltimore's Inner Harbor: "In the humid days of summer, descending from the hill into the harbor was like sinking into a familiar hot tub."
“The literary device of having the principal characters launched on a journey is well established, calling to mind examples as divergent as Chaucer and Zane Gray. If not done well it can be a cliche. Goodman handles the device deftly and the result is a compelling novel.”
“Each brief chapter explores the perspective of a different passenger, while a major character in one story might reappear as a bit player in the next. One woman's back tattoo is gawked at by the male passengers on board and, seen through their lustful eyes, she acquires an unflattering reputation for most of the book until her own tale is told. Another character deals with the sudden death of a nearby rider, who moments earlier (as only the reader knows) experienced a major change of heart.
"Once everyone's introduced, the real fun begins. Two characters drunkenly end up in a cabin together, while on the other end of the train a cat-and-mouse game breaks out between a runaway mob member and his pursuing hit man. At times, Tracks feels like an episode of The Sopranos on VIA Rail, particularly since the mafia story arc - the one Goodman spends most of the novel crafting - is by far the highlight.
"... the writing makes for a great ride."
“… a fascinating cast of characters … Goodman’s voice is gentle as he explores motivations and interactions. The scenes in these stories expand to include all kinds of human fears and sorrows, regrets and grateful joys.
“Managing a large cast of characters is not an easy task, but one that Goodman accomplishes with ease. The characters interact throughout, creating a seamless narrative out of their different tales.
“Tensions mount as inner and outer conflicts come into play. Incidents from each story increasingly affect the outcome of the others, as the connections between the characters, however transitory, become stronger."
Midwest Book Review:
"The overarching story of life is forged by many stories. "Tracks" is a series of short stories crafted by Eric D. Goodman as he brings together a novel forged from these smaller tales. With a unique concept and entertaining writing about a passenger train going to Chicago from Baltimore, "Tracks" is quite a fascinating and recommended read.
The Writer Magazine:
“... irresistible … Count me in.”
Baltimore Jewish Times:
Must Read Section
"Goodman’s break-out novel follows a group of eclectic characters on a long train ride from Baltimore to Chicago. Goodman expertly weaves the characters in and out of each story.
"In addition to its structural genius, “Tracks” boasts a creative cast of characters, including a young American soldier, a woman mourning her parents, a computer-geek-turned-activist and his would-be assassin, an elderly Holocaust survivor, a sleazy traveling salesman, a young woman distracted by a recent breakup, and an adulterous woman with a prominent tattoo.
"... Goodman manages to work plenty of action into the slow-moving train ...
"Throughout, Goodman’s voice is observant and authoritative. He draws the reader’s attention to rich details, providing a glimpse into the lives of each character. Baltimore natives will especially love Goodman’s descriptions of local scenery and architecture, but the story can captivate any interested reader."
The Nervous Breakdown:
“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.
"... another nice touch by Goodman, 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.
"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."
Washington Independent Review of Books:
“… Goodman writes with an appealing directness and attention to detail. The strongest vignettes drew me into the characters’ experiences even when they happened long in the past.
"The best vignette ... is that of a young soldier on leave from fighting in Afghanistan. He has just lost his girlfriend because he refused her pleas to leave the Army and repudiate the war. Now he is filled with sadness and confusion about the country and the cause for which he is fighting. Goodman’s war scenes, including the deaths of the soldier’s two closest friends, are gripping ..."
The Potomac: A Journal of Poetry and Politics:
“… Tracks, a “novel in stories,” seventeen of them that take place on an overnight train ride from Baltimore to Chicago, is a real tour de force.
“Goodman writes in a witty, confidential style, letting the reader in on “the straight skinny” behind the lives of his characters in a sort of behind–the–hand conspiratorial voice that’s cozy and entertaining.
“Goodman brings Baltimore to life in story after story … Make no mistake, this is a book whose entertainment value makes it worth reading for anyone, particularly if you’re from Baltimore.”
“…the stories exude local culture and nuances that only a local writer could bring to life. Whether the characters are running away from their lives in Baltimore or eager to get back to them, the protagonists in each story are seeking change and the rails is the best way to examine their lives and find solutions to their problems.
“Goodman has created a novel in stories about the everyman that will reach into the reader's core and transport them inward to examine his/her own life more closely. Tracks is a novel and short stories, but much more than that, it is a journey.”
"I've never read anything quite like Tracks.
"The way Goodman subtly shifts back a few hours or jumps ahead a little in time has the neat effect of creating that sort of discombobulated feeling you get while traveling on long-distance public transportation, that sense that you’re somehow apart from the outside world, in transition, as you make your way from one place to another. Very effective.
"Goodman also lets his characters observe one another. With each new story the reader experiences, another piece of the puzzle falls into place. The next time a character visits the lounge car or passes someone in the aisle, there is an ever greater chance of it being someone we’ve already met, one of the stories we’ve already read. This casual layering of perspectives is extremely well done and rather delightful to experience.
"... my favorite part of Tracks was how it makes you realize everyone has a story. Each story would have worked on its own, but together, linked by the thin thread of the train, they amount to something bigger than the sum of the parts. Goodman accomplished this masterfully in Tracks."
Savvy Verse & Wit:
"Goodman is adept at ensuring readers care about his characters in just a few pages … It does not matter where these characters come from; what matters is that the rails provide them with hope and a time out from their hustle of their daily lives. The train and the rails are an escape, a quiet place to contemplate their lives as the undulating sway of the cars lulls them into deep meditation. Paralleling their actual lives, the trip on the train has each member making contact with strangers, and like the conscience that guides their decision making, the conductor on the train whispers advice and nuggets of observation/wisdom to those with whom he speaks. Beyond the characters, the city of Baltimore and the rail line itself loom large in the story, almost becoming characters themselves …
"Tracks by Eric D. Goodman demonstrates how we are all traveling the same line and how we have similar fears and failings, but also similar hopes and dreams. In spite of that, we all end up in different places. Even with the characters who seem unsavory or hard to like, they offer a lesson to readers — seize the moment because in the next, it could be gone. Opportunity arises and disappears just as quickly, and life on the train ride of life is quick and unrelenting. There’s not much time for reflection and a deeper examination of pros and cons when living life at full tilt, but stepping back for a few hours on a train ride can be enough to reassess and rejoin life’s journey with a new purpose. Excellent novel in stories."
“I was so drawn to some of the characters and could entirely identify with the situations they were dealing with. Others who fall way outside anything I know were well depicted ...
"It was interesting to see how different travelers were dealing with similar situations in very different ways, and to see how brief encounters could impact on their lives.
"I loved this book, the subject matter and the style, unfussy yet beautiful. Well worth a read!"
San Francisco Book Review:
The author shares his experience of working with an agent and publisher on changes to Tracks.
Three Guys One Book
“The novel follows the stories of the passengers on a train from Baltimore to Chicago, breaking into their lives, both real and as imagined by the other passengers, skillfully and subtly intertwining their tales. It’s good stuff and you can read two of the chapters here."
The Baltimore Sun:
Tracks made the front page of the Arts & Entertainment section of The Baltimore Sun's Sunday Edition (in print). Altered versions of this article appeared in print and online in The Baltimore Sun, The Baltimore Messenger, and The Towson Times.
"Someone once described the ambition of getting a novel published as 'a slender keyhole through which few have passed.' Eric Goodman has passed through that keyhole, and has found rewards on the other side — on Monday, June 4, he was in New York picking up the 2012 Gold Medal for Best Fiction in the Mid-Atlantic Region in the Independent Publishers Book Awards for his book, Tracks: A Novel in Stories."
Portsmouth Daily Times:
“Goodman’s novel-in-stories has been described as a “Tarantino-style ‘Love Actually’ meets literary fiction.” The book follows a group of characters on a train from Baltimore to Chicago, interweaving their experiences as each story spotlights the viewpoint of a character. The major character in one story becoming a minor character in another, almost like living in a small town. Goodman said that, in a way, his experiences here in Portsmouth helped to influence his latest book."
York Daily Record / Sunday News:
“When Goodman watches a movie or reads a book, he always wants to know more about the side characters. Writing a novel in intertwined stories seemed like the ideal way to learn more about different characters. Gathering an eclectic group of passengers -- which includes a salesman, a soldier, a former mobster and a Holocaust survivor -- also meant Goodman could have darker and lighter stories mixed together in one book."
Portland Book Review:
The author shares his "addiction" to writing advice and comments as he writes about how much advice one book can handle in the Writers on Writing section.
Sacramento Book Review:
The author shares his experience of editing and rewriting with an agent and publisher based on his experience with Tracks.
Black & Blonde:
"This is the type of book I live for. A literary Crash or 21 Grams."
Summer Reading List
"Climb aboard this compilation of stories set on a train from Baltimore to Chicago."
Every Day I Write the Book:
"Unexpected and unique ... an homage to train travel. The strength of the book was the cast of characters who were quite memorable ..."
Baltimore Jewish Times:
(Interview in the "Exclusively in Print" section)
"BJT: Why did you choose to include a Holocaust survivor as one of your characters?
"Goodman: Five or six years ago, I went to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., and I just remember it was such an emotional experience. I had read a lot of books and seen a lot of movies about the Holocaust, but this had such an effect on me. Riding home on the MARC train, I was already writing notes and thinking about how I could include this in a story. I visited the museum several more times to really submerge myself in it as I was writing. I think "Live Cargo," the story that came out of it, is probably one of the more powerful stories in the book."
Independent Publisher Magazine:
"The authors we sign have a knack for writing visual, compelling narratives whose characters and story lines are quirky and timeless. There is no commercial crassness to what we do. We live to tell another story with unconventional plots and heroic misdeeds. It's this strain of inventively fresh, honest and offbeat entertainment that is often missing from today's bestseller lists." (Dan Cafaro of Atticus Books)
"Potomac Review: The characters in Tracks don’t take predictable paths through their lives. Which story in Tracks surprised you the most when you finished writing it?
"Eric D. Goodman: As many writers will tell you, a character often takes on a life of his or her own and sometimes leads you in directions you don’t expect. When I began writing each story, I knew what they were about and who the characters were, but not always where they’d end up."
Write Place Write Time:
Eric D. Goodman shares pictures and thoughts about his favorite place to write, and the simple pine desk that has seen a portion of every book he's worked on for nearly 30 years.
Farley's Bookshop Newsletter:
"Monthly Spotlight: Goodman interweaves the stories and lives of a group of passengers on a train headed from Baltimore to Chicago. The book is full of tension, insight and tight, great writing. It is a wonderful look into the human soul and an absolute pleasure to read. Fine work."
“Many of us know this Rodgers Forge resident's wonderful first book, "Flightless Goose," a children's story … now adults can thrill to Eric's work.”
Talent in Motion Magazine:
"The tales are as diverse as the characters on the train ... The one thing they have in common is a train, a conductor and time. Each of their chance encounters shed a closer understanding to ...why we are stronger by the stories we share ..."
Pen in Hand:
"Praise for Goodman's book includes accolades from The New York Journal of Books, which calls Goodman 'a born storyteller who weaves his tales of each individual character, and then ties them together to create a finely patterend cloth.' Madison Smartt Bell described Tracks as 'a perfect read' and Thomas Steinbeck dubbed Goodman 'an exciting talent' who takes the craft of short story writing 'to the level of art.'"
In this guest blog, Eric D. Goodman shares five train stories worth riding. C.M. Mayo writes of Tracks:
"It has been garnering effusive praise, including from Madison Smartt Bell who calls it "a most cunningly crafted tale -- a perfect read for trains, planes, and automobiles... or even your armchair." Hop aboard at www.TracksNovel.com."
Gaithersburg Book Festival:
“Q&A with 2012 Featured Author Eric D. Goodman
“Where do you find inspiration?
“I never know when inspiration is going to hit, but I can say that I find it in life’s simple moments. My writing tends to be based on ideas or feelings. Perhaps a bit of overheard conversation, a unique thought, something that has happened to me or someone I know. That inspiration can come from watching people at the harbor or reading a news story or overhearing a conversation on a train. The idea comes first, then the characters, then the plot. I like to capture everyday moments that seem simple on the surface, but that contain the essence of life.”
York Daily Record/Sunday News Book Buzz:
“… Goodman has won a 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award. Announced last week, “Tracks” took home the gold for best fiction in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Awards Ceremony will be held June 4 in New York.
Atticus Short Story Month Blog:
“Short stories force a writer to do more with fewer words … short stories take skill and work.”
Great Book Reviews:
“All of the characters are well told, especially Charlie (a hitman), Gene (ex-criminal) Prewitt (stressed) and Franklin (awesome character)! Each story is great. The author writes the stories while the characters are on a train, but the stories themselves are about new beginnings, remembrance and life.
“I love the writing style, and all in all, I think Eric D is an author to look out for!”
“Each has their own reasons for being on the train, and their own stories but for a time their paths cross and in some cases affect the course of their fellow passengers' lives.”
“There are so many great things about this book.”
Savvy Verse & Wit:
"Tracks by Eric D. Goodman is one of the best novel in stories I've read in a long time, and it will likely end up on my best of the year list."
Author Eric D. Goodman shares the thrill of release day.
"A good number of people have asked me: what was it like? To finally have my first novel released after years—decades—of pitching to agents and publishers? To have a traditional publisher release my baby to the world. The short answer: somewhat surreal. What follows is the long answer."
Award announcement and Interview
“The Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 19 has some best-selling talent, like Sarah Pekkanen. But even more enticing is the swath of local talent that will be on hand at the festival, including Eric D. Goodman, author of Tracks. His novel recently earned the 2012 Gold Medal for Best Fiction in the Mid-Atlantic Region from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
“The interconnected stories provide an overarching story as told by a variety of perspectives, including a workaholic and a languishing poet. What many of these protagonists have in common is that they are in transition, either between stages in their life or in their relationships. Through observations and conversations, these characters come to realizations about their own lives, and the journey on the train becomes a vision of the human journey.”
Author Eric D. Goodman blogs about what happens after release day and how exhaustion is a good thing.
"My debut novel in stories, Tracks, was published by Atticus Books on June 30 of this year. The release date was a whirlwind, so much going on that it left my head spinning. But that doesn’t mean I’m standing still now, a season later ... it doesn’t end with release day."
Lexington Herald Leader:
Tracks makes the Bluegrass Bookshelf list.
The author writes about his experience taking Tracks abroad, reading and signing at a book event in Madrid, Spain.
"Author Eric D. Goodman is clearly on the right lines with his debut book, Tracks ... with each chapter about different characters, including a hitman, Holocaust survivor, a former mobster, and a poet. Goodman is now finishing off his second work, he told me at a bijou launch at Tecolote, the lively literary lair in the Upper Villiage, hosted by his friends Thom and Gail Steinbeck."
Ally E. Peltier Newsletter:
Success Story about going from rough draft to published novel.
"Be sure to check out the book, Tracks: A Novel in Stories, by Eric D. Goodman, published by Atticus Books."
"Eric Goodman sees release of Tracks, a novel in stories ..."
Interview with Atticus Books:
"... our tete-a-tete with the author himself, who shares everything from his original inspiration to John Waters’ plans for the movie ..."
Want to learn more? vIsit the Tracks website where you can read excerpts, listen to radio readings, and find out what others are saying about the book.