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In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
  Valerie Martin

ISBN 978-0-9668612-3-5     $14.95  /  $16.95 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

88 pp      
PUB DATE: Spring 1999       Fiction


Ms. Martin’s trademarks: a preoccupation with the dark underside of life, a taste for disturbing, even macabre imagery . . . excursions into an unseen realm [of] strange and magical events . . . Martin possesses a sure storytelling gift, [an] ability to transform a myriad of specific details into larger, symbolic shapes.

—The New York Times


Few have written so surprisingly, so convincingly, as Valerie Martin about sexual obsession.

—Margaret Atwood

Little mad obsessions encased in precise prose make stories so startling you can’t let go. Martin drags the psyche out of the dark cellars and closets into daylight. What happens is unsettling and weirdly beautiful in masochistic ways, like a gingerbread house with built-in gas ovens. Emotionally painful, iconoclastic, brilliant.


The generosity of Martin’s understanding opens every character to the full, astounding range of human possibility. Her revelations build mesmerizing excitement, a surprising kindness, and an unexpected sanity in the darkness.

—Katherine Dunn, The Washington Post Book World

A formidable writer in a class by herself . . . With her clear and penetrating gaze, Martin looks at the world and sees its horrors and contradictions, its terrifying beauty, and renders her insights through the characters of memorable women. She is a disturbing, provocative writer of risky and dangerous fiction.

—The Times-Picayune, New Orleans


Martin may well prove to be one of the important American writers of her generation.

—Daily News, Los Angeles



—Vogue, London



—Walker Percy


An impressive writer.

—Ann Tyler


Remarkably fine work, full of insight and truth.

—Paperback Buyer, London


Rich in perceptive prose . . . rich in probing character.

—The Chicago Tribune


Valerie Martin is fascinating, tantalizing . . . contemporary and extraordinary.

—The Boston Globe


Valerie Martin holds the reader’s attention with an Ancient Mariner—like grip.

—The Glasgow Herald

Valerie Martin is one of those rare writers who understands the loss of traditional motives and order, but in her work never yields to the jumbled directionless excesses that tempt the modern fictioneer. Her stories are tight, bound with a tension that is as delicate as it is strong. And they are disturbing, unequivocal—a voice that will stay with you for a long time.

—Small Press Book Club

About the Author

Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, an American novelist and short story writer, was born in Sedalia, Missouri in 1948, but spent most of her childhood and young adult life in New Orleans. She attended the University of New Orleans and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she received an MFA in Creative Writing. Ms. Martin has taught at the University of New Orleans, New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Mt. Holyoke College.

from "Love"

The man I am talking to wants to kill me. He has a knife in his pocket and in the last five minutes he has begun to feel the weight of that knife, just above his groin. He has even gone so far as to trace the outline of the knife inside his pocket with his fingertips, under the table, where I can't see. We have a table between us but it's a small table and he could grab me by my hair and pull me forward easily, turning my body away as he pulled me by the hair so that I would be stretched backward across the table and he could bring the blade down along my throat. There would be a second as the blade slit into my throat when there would be no blood and then, with what satisfaction would he watch the thin line fill with blood, overflow. He would pull my head down a little farther towards him, so that the blood would run over my chin, my face, into my nostrils and over my eyes. . .


from "Messengers"

Jacob saw the messengers when he opened the kitchen door. There were three of them, standing together in the far corner of the room, in the midst of conversation. When the tallest of the three noticed Jacob, who stood shocked still in the doorway, he turned to the other two and said, "It's awake." Jacob feigned outrage. "What is this?" he demanded. His knees were weak and he could hear his heart thumping feebly in his ears. He dug his nails into the palms of his hands to be certain that he was awake. The three creatures stepped away from the corner in unison, focusing their attention upon him. The tallest, who was the spokesman for the group, stretched his hand out, palm upward. Jacob backed away from the proffered hand, partly in fear and partly in fascination. The creature's fingers were webbed together with a film like substance that glistened as if it were wet. All along his arm the film hung in loose folds. When he raised his arm these folds pulled out into a diaphanous, almost liquid sheet that extended from his waist to the diamond bright material of his torso. Jacob attempted to communicate his surprise by looking into the creature's face, only to find his terror doubly reflected in the pupils of two shining silver eyes. He closed his own eyes and covered them with his hands . . .