cover image Martin John

Martin John

Anakana Schofield. Biblioasis (Consortium, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $15.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-77196-034-2

Martin John has a problem that could land him behind bars: he has a tendency to expose himself and masturbate in public. To counter this, his life is a series of carefully regimented circuits and lists of things to avoid, such as public transportation and words that begin with "P." His mother frets over every facet of his existence, spending her days watching television clips of criminals and wondering about mothers who've "failed" as she feels she has. Her sanity and Martin's survival depend on his ability to remain focused on his job and to leave nothing in his life open to possibility. Schofield (Malarky) eschews an excess of detail to terrific effect. The novel's harsh, sometimes broken language, paired with a minimum of punctuation, crafts a deliberate and effective sense of confusion, as if entering a mind or minds in the midst of great turmoil. Often the novel reads like an anthropological report filtered through a literary lens; the details of Martin's life and crimes are stacked as if documenting a human card tower barely capable of remaining upright. This is an important and brilliantly unconventional work, offering a glimpse into a mind few can ever, or would ever want to, fully understand. Agent: Marilyn Biderman, Marilyn Biderman Literary Management. (Nov.)