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Men in the Making, by Bruce Machart

November 2011 Indie Next List
Esquire 10 Best Books of the Year
Los Angeles Times Holiday Books: Fiction
The Nervous Breakdown Best Books of 2011
Our Man in Boston 2011 Best List
The Quivering Pen Best Books of 2011
JMWW Best Books of 2011

Whether they find themselves walking the fertile farmland of south Texas, steering trucks through the suffocating sprawl of Houston, or turning logs into loose leaf in the mills just west of the Sabine River, the men of these stories find themselves beset by the insufficiencies of their own in-grained ideas of manhood.

Like Richard Russo, Bruce Machart had a profound knowledge of the male psyche and a gift for conveying the absurdity and brutality of daily life with humor and compassion.  Alternately lush with lyricism and starkly candid, these stories emerge from inside a vividly scrutinized everyday of farms, refineries, hospitals, and homes to explore what it means to be a man at the rise of a new millennium.  What it means to be a man who can't protect his wife from violence, or protect his children from tragic accidents, or protect himself from loss and heartbreak. Machart's characters have a deep and abiding humanity that makes their hardscrabble lives all the more unforgettable.     

Praise for Men in the Making:

“Bruce Machart’s protagonists know work – whether it’s loading cedar logs into debarking drums or scouring the sludge from a drill rig’s void tanks -- and they know denial, and self-denial, and compassion, because they’re mostly good men undone by loss, and by their own resentments and shortcomings, and it’s moving how much they continue to hope, even down in their own particular wells of darkness.   Men in the Making is a stirring and impressive collection.” – Jim Shepard

“I haven’t been hit so hard by a collection of stories in a long time.  I put this book down feeling literally stunned.  I think of great stories like Larry Brown’s ‘Facing the Music,’ Frank O’Connor’s ‘Guests of the Nation,’ Barry Hannah’s ‘Drummer Down,’ Alice Walker’s “Strong Horse Tea.’  Think of the stories that nearly tore your heart out when you read them.  If you don’t believe me, open this book right now and read, just to name one, ‘The Only Good Thing I’ve Heard.’ Then you will.” – Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury

“Story by story by story, Bruce Machart gets his guys right: the crosswise emotions, the briar patch of thoughts suffered by men who either think too much or too little – the misfires and self-deceptions and tall tales, the tragic goofiness of liking mistaken for loving, the need to hide under the covers until real life goes away, Men in the Making can’t possibly be Mr. Machart’s debut collection of stories, for these are the yarns of a young master of the form.” –  Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once


Copyright Irene Skolnick Literary Agency 2016