Between Heaven and Here.

Author:Menlove, Leia
Position:Book review

Susan Straight (author); BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HERE; McSweeneys (Fiction: Literary) 22.00 ISBN: 9781936365753

Byline: Leia Menlove

Between Heaven and Here, the seismic new novel by Susan Straight, has received deservedly high praise from readers and reviewers alike since its release this fall by McSweeney's Books.

This haunting story, written in not one but many original voices, opens with a young local of Rio Seco, California, discovering the body of Glorette Picard in a shopping cart. "No one looked like Glorette," Sidney muses of his former schoolmate. Yet the town's great beauty was also an addict and prostitute. She "worked regular rounds near the Launderland because that's where one crew sold rock from a dryer," he remembers.

Glorette's death, and what Sidney does with her body, goes on to touch many lives, in both major and glancing ways, with each fact building to a form of truth. The narrative switches to Glorette's father's voice next, and then that of an uncle, and then a long series of relations young and old, each of whom reveal their own past and present in their own manner of speech.

For Straight's characters, the past seeps up either as a slow killer -- as with the dissolution of family and its traditions -- or a fast one, as with Glorette's sudden death. While never disappointing, this tense, carefully unrolling story features a certain lack of focus that can be disorienting...

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