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The Book of Heaven: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 18, 2014


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"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" by Raymond Carver
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (February 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375408061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375408069
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #462,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Poet and memoirist Storace turns her analytical and lyrical focus to the celestial in this beyond-category novel. It begins in the voice of the first woman, Eve, who reveals that she and God planned the fall of man before she was even born into Eden. Eve spent her time in Heaven before she came to Earth studying four constellations, each tracing the shape of a mythic woman whose ordeals in life had been so great they were immortalized in the stars after death, and each of whom has a lesson to teach her. These matriarchs become the novel’s narrators following Eve’s introduction. Each taps into her inner divinity to rise above the often demeaning circumstances in which she finds herself. Some are drawn from familiar figures of the Old Testament, while others are Storace’s own creations. Each speaks in a voice so keen, the reader doesn’t want her story to end, and Storace’s imaginative look into the nature of eternity, memory, and the divine leaves readers with much to contemplate. A stunningly poetic and mythological novel. --Amber Peckham

Review

“Fleeing Orion the Hunter, the biblical figure of Eve is carried away by a river of stars to another Heaven where unfamiliar, female-inspired constellations are visible. In her visionary first novel, Storace gives voice to the stories behind four of them, tales of women dwelling in different yet not unfamiliar worlds of oppression and submission. Stupendously imagined and detailed, occasionally didactic and dense, Storace’s descriptions of the four women’s lives that inspired these unknown star formations are filled with distantly recognizable tribes, beliefs, dynasties and social systems. . . . Several of the stories are modeled on Old Testament figures; all recount lavishly complicated regimes in which the women suffer intensely but where their isolation can result in extraordinary acts. Storace’s striking feminist mythopoeic work offers provocative alternatives in beautifully crafted prose.”
Kirkus (starred review)
 
"Mystical, lyrical, fascinating . . . A fine author can create stories that open one's mind to alternative views of entrenched archetypes. In a lyrical, feministic, fictional version of Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, this is a marvelous, thought-provoking book for readers who enjoy mythologies which reach down into one's soul. Highly recommended." 
Library Journal (starred review)

“Acclaimed poet and memoirist Storace steps onto the terrain of myth, creating a feminist cosmology. . . . Poetic, elusive, and thought provoking.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“Storace’s imaginative look into the nature of eternity, memory, and the divine leaves readers with much to contemplate. A stunningly poetic and mythological novel.”
Booklist

 

Customer Reviews

Interesting and unusual, with vivid and intelligent writing.
Shannon
This book makes you think with its comprehensive, in depth, and somewhat to a dire degree of poetic scenario type composition type written book.
TECHNOGEEKROCKS
I forced myself to finish it but it was not very interesting, just more of the same thing, bit by bit.
Momma Mary

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By bunnyrabbit4 VINE VOICE on February 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't sure what to make of "Book of Heaven" when I first started to read it. The language was a little too poetic for me. I was worried I would never read a sentence that flowed in a straight-forward manner. But after I cleared the initial description of the new constellations, the four stories flowed easily. I absolutely loved the book and the deep insight the author showed into the human condition. Storace masterfully captures the arrogance that can accompany religious dogma and how it infects those who deem themselves "one with God". It shines a harsh light on the sins of patriarchy as well as those men and women who draw power from it. It also delves deep into the souls and means of women whose lives depend on reading every nuance of their master's mood. There are so many great quotes in this book that make you stop and ponder. One of my favorites is "For it is said we wait for God's judgment in the life to come; but our lives here are our judgment of God." And that is not to say that this book is for people interested in religion. It is about the ways in which various beliefs create culture and give rise to privilege.
I don't want to include spoilers but the various races encountered in this book ask us to consider some serious questions about where our own culture is going, especially the Angelican's who destroy so much while calling it a quest for "Paradise."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Rabinowitz on April 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This beautiful, elegant, profoundly moving book is one of the most remarkable feats of imagination I have encountered in years. In pellucid,deeply poetic prose the author sets out to bring us on a journey to an alternative, utterly plausible,utterly convincing universe in which we encounter a retelling of our deepest mythic understandings of our place in the world, told in each instance from the perspective of a dazzling heroine. This is true storytelling, in a direct line from the Arabian Nights as well as the Bible. While each chapter of this wonderful book is about a woman, in the end the book is about all of us, and about the redemptive power of love as the true and abiding test of all humankind. Splendid! Will be read a hundred years from now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chel Micheline TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Book of Heaven" is unlike anything else I have read before. It's definitely NOT a curl up on the chaise lounge with a fun drink and read in an afternoon while keeping on eye on your kids kinda book. It's more like a fable- a poetic tale that reads like someone is unspooling an ancient legend for you, little bits at a time. Thus, it requires full attention and you really have to be willing to go along for the ride, because it's not a book that gives you a sympathetic set of characters that you immediately connect with and then carries you gently along their adventures.

This is a beautiful book. Although it's somewhat hard to describe in a few paragraphs, "The Book of Heaven" is sort of a retelling of several classic tells from the woman's perspective. Thus, important narrative elements - things we have sort of come to rely on as the basic "rules" for the way we live and conduct ourselves as human - shift dramatically.

It starts out with a little parable about the constellations- we have based so much folklore on the constellations and their positions, but we sometimes forget that the night sky only appears the way it does from *our* particular position in the universe- from other positions in the universe, the "night sky" is a jumble of different constellations, with different tales and legends attached to them. Thus "The Book of Heaven" provides a shift in perspective on several parables- it gives the women in the story a chance to tell their side of things.

This is not an easy read, or something breezy and fun. It's kind of like a labyrinth. But if you can hang on, and allow yourself to slip into the poetic writing and the "ancient" narratives presented, it's really a beautiful experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kristi Gilleland TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I first began this book, the richness of the language gave me pause, and distracted me from comprehending what I was reading. I found myself 4 pages in the book without a clue of the characters I was reading about, or the theme of the book. Soon I realized that was the perfect entrance into this unusual, gutsy, thought provoking book. My understanding coalesced gradually from a multifaceted universe of infinity and possibility into a world in which woman could be God. In this way, my entrance into this book was much like God's entrance in the creation story- the story's form began to emerge, and it was beautiful.

This book is for the spiritual but will not be for those tied to dogma. Some may even see it as blasphemous as the stories of the Bible are transformed to the female perspective, and the life experience of the female within society, within patriarchy are examined and stripped away, much like a beautiful hand-wrought red sequined wedding dress is ripped so that the bride is left with no mirrors, no image of herself, as her iconoclast husband demands, for his God has instructed him that there be no images in order that the people might not turn from God's. As I read that story in particular, I thought about the women that have to veil themselves, so that their identities are so hidden from society. This book is often a damning accusation of how men might use religious ideas to oppress women.

Another example of this comes later in the book when a heroine is executed, and later a character that is an allegory for Satan is revealed. "I love God" he says, but he admits he loves men more, because MEN MADE HIM. He admits he's never seen God, but only serves him through the religious instruction of men. I thought that was so awesome.
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