"You have to know the rest of my story, the
part I can't yet bring myself to say. A story
of a boy I knew a long time ago and a
brother I loved and then lost."
Past and present collide in Lee Martin's highly anticipated novel of a man, his brother, and the dark secret that both connects and divides them. Haunting and beautifully wrought, River of Heaven weaves a story of love and loss, confession and redemption, and the mystery buried with a boy named Dewey Finn.
On an April evening in 1955, Dewey died on the railroad tracks outside Mt. Gilead, Illinois, and the mystery of his death still confounds the people of this small town.
River of Heaven begins some fifty years later and centers on the story of Dewey's boyhood friend Sam Brady, whose solitary adult life is much formed by what really went on in the days leading up to that evening at the tracks. It's a story he'd do anything to keep from telling, but when his brother, Cal, returns to Mt. Gilead after decades of self-exile, it threatens to come to the surface.
A Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Bright Forever, Lee Martin masterfully conveys, with a voice that is at once distinct and lyrical, one man's struggle to come to terms with the outcome of his life. Powerful and captivating, River of Heaven is about the high cost of living a lie, the chains that bind us to our past, and the obligations we have to those we love.
Pulitzer finalist Martin (The Bright Forever) returns with a meandering, convoluted tale of an elderly gay man who gets jolted from his lonely life. Sammy Brady's quiet existence with his basset hound, Stump, gets interrupted by neighbor Arthur after Arthur's wife dies. Outgoing Arthur places himself in Sammy's tiny orbit, and the two are soon building a ship-shaped dog house for Stump while Sammy ruminates on a secret he's not ready to reveal. When a reporter for the local paper shows up to interview Sammy about the unorthodox dog house, the experience jars Sammy; the reporter is a relative of Dewey Finn, Sammy's childhood friend who mysteriously died on a railroad track. The slow pace picks up when Maddie, Arthur's granddaughter, arrives. Cal, Sammy's alienated brother, is soon on the scene, jump-starting a complicated plot that involves the Michigan Militia and a violent antiques collector bent on securing an item Cal's hiding. Not everyone survives what follows, and Sammy finally reveals the truth about his friend's long-ago death. Martin crafts eloquent sentences, though he often succumbs to Sammy's syrupy nostalgia and has trouble propelling a labyrinthine plot. (Apr.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 14, 2008
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