Michael Martone is its own appendix, comprising fifty contributors notes, each of which identifies in exorbitant biographical detail the author of the other forty-nine. It is full of fanciful anecdotes and preposterous reminiscences. Michael Martone's self-inventions include the multiple deaths of himself and all his family members, his Kafkaesque rebirth as a giant insect, and his stints as circus performer, assembly-line worker, photographer, and movie extra. Expect no autobiographical consistency here. A note revealing Martone's mother as the ghost-writer of all his books precedes the note beginning, Michael Martone, an orphan... We learn of Martone's university career and sketchy formal education, his misguided caretaking of his teacher John Barth's lawn, and his impersonation of a poor African republic in political science class, where Martone's population is allowed to starve as his more fortunate fellow republics fight over development and natural resource trading-cards. Peanut, Bug, Gigi-tone, Tony's boy, Patty's boy, Junior's, Mickey, Monk, Mr Martone, and the contributor named in this note, proves as Protean as fiction itself, continuously transforming the past with every new attribution but never identifying himself by name. It is this missing personage who, from first note to last, constitutes the unformed subject of Michael Martone.
Michael Martone was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has taught at several universities including Johns Hopkins, Iowa State, Harvard, Alabama, and Syracuse. He participated in the last major memo war fought with actual paper memoranda before the advent of electronic email. Staples were deployed. The paper generated in that war stacks several inches deep, thick enough to stop a bullet. Martone learned that the cc: is the most strategic field of the memo's template, and he is sad to realize that fewer and fewer readers know what the cc: stands for let alone have ever held a piece of the delicate and duplicating artifact in their ink stained and smudge smudged fingers. It, like everything else, is history.