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The Thin Place Paperback – February 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316014249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316014243
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Davis's unconventional style of writing this novel is not well-suited to the audio format. Chapters are told from many different characters' perspectives, and the narrative jumps around from past to present. Since Frasier does not vary her delivery or do much to differentiate the voices of the characters, it's easy to lose the thread of what's going on. The novel frequently tosses in "list-style" items, such as police logs and daily horoscopes, which are slow, distracting and repetitive when read aloud. Frasier's cool, objective voice matches the author's narrative tone, but it makes such potentially exciting scenes as a gunman taking hostages in a church flat and dull. The strength of the audio medium is in its intimacy and emotion, the ability of a talented reader to bring characters and stories to life. A novel such as this, told in the detached tone of an impartial observer, does not play to the medium's strengths. It works better on the page.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From The New Yorker

In the opening pages of this brilliant, peculiar book, three small-town girls discover a man's corpse at the edge of a lake, and one of them, Mees Kipp, mysteriously brings him back to life. Davis writes hallucinatory, literate prose, and adopts a cosmic perspective: she is concerned with nothing less than describing the town's every waking moment. The experiences of Mees's dog, trotting through a clearing that smells of porcupine, stand alongside those of a minister's wife reading her morning paper and "confronting whatever form the devil had chosen to assume overnight." In any other book, a magical resurrection would be a central event; for Davis, it's just another moment in a particular place.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Partially this is due to Davis' incredible fluid writing style.
James Hiller
It keeps you wondering where it's going...and really, in the end, I wasn't all that satisfied as to where it took me.
Donna Thompson
THE THIN PLACE is almost overwhelmed by minutiae, and at times the overall story seems to get lost in the details.
Deborah Wiley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kathryn Davis is a new author to me. Critically recognized for some of her other work, Davis has somehow managed to stay in the popular shadows of fiction. Now, with the publication of her sixth book, The Thin Place, hopefully this will drag her into the light of being well known, inventive, and incredibly literate.

This book tells the tale of the citizens of Varennes, a little town close to the Canadian border, who are also closely connected by little silver threads of desire, envy, anger, greed, love, lust, and growth. It starts with three girls finding a body on the beach, and one of the girls striving for the miraculous and bringing the man back to life. Over the pages we meet an elderly lady living in a retirement home, her son who jumps from marriage to marriage because he loves women, another woman who restores books, one who ushers in church, a teacher who is putting on a play for his students which brings us back to the girls.

The Thin Place is by no means an easy novel or a quick read. It demands your attention from the first page, and should anything wrestle your focus away for even a moment, you find yourself lost. Partially this is due to Davis' incredible fluid writing style. One might liken it to a stream running over your page, as attention shifts about in a scene much as if a camera would in filming erratically. It's in this fluidity that the beauty of Davis' prose rests. She doesn't ignore the meager nor the less-important, everything gets a voice in her writing; from dogs, to beaver, to lichen to the ice sheets moving over the earth in its great sculpting array.

Much of this reminds me of Whitman and his poetry. As he strove to encompass all around him in his verse, Davis strives to encompass all in her paragraphs.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on January 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Rarely does a book come out that silences and humbles the reader. The Thin Place is one of this select few. By weaving the metaphysical, religious and philosophical search for meaning into the characters of a common, typical town, Kathryn Davis is able to take the reader with her on a quest for understanding. No aspect of creation is too minute, its role too trivial for notice as part of the world around us, a world we may not really see, a life we not really feel.

The Thin Place is a town like every other town in the world, full of people, animals, plant life and death. The small town of Verennes is home to schoolteachers and book binders, elderly ladies and young girls, bankers and reverends. Animals run throughout the town, escaping together to explore, protect and disappear--family pets and the wild ones. Pansies and the peonies grow there as does the lichen that flourishes as it has for thousands of years. The young can bring back the dead while the elderly can only watch.

Mees and friends since kindergarten are teetering on the edge of teen years. Lorne is the child forever looking for a home. Sunny is the pretty one, the good one, the boss of all. "Three girls, arms linked, shadows misleadingly alike." Only Mees can bring resurrection, a gift that seems timeless but one that can be lost forever in the tumor of evil. In an ending that both satisfies and surprises, Mees' talent proves to be uncontrollable and unreliable as virtue clashes with sin.

Kathryn Davis' extraordinary novel gives voice to the creation of the world, its progress and its potential ending. She creates the threads that follow the events of the past as they unravel into our present and our future.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By JET VINE VOICE on June 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The premise of the story has been summarized by other reviewers, so I won't take the time to do it here, but I will note that I bought this book after reading a review, thinking that it was going to be more focused on the supernatural, the review leading me to think that the focus was the "thin place," the division between this world and the next that is thinner in Varennes than in other places. I envisioned ghosts or magical realism, of sorts. In short, this book was not what I expected.

That being said, there is an element of the supernatural in this book, but only one element. The whole of the book is based firmly and viscerally in reality. Davis has an extremely keen ability at description and fluid prose, one of the best I've read, and I often found myself delighted by the aptness of her descriptions, putting into words ideas that have fleetingly crossed my mind (like the description of dogs' heads smelling of popcorn).

Other reviewers, and friends of mine that have read the book, have found it confusing, or difficult to stick with. I disagree - although there are many characters, and the prose deviates regularly from the plot (i.e., the daily lives of the town's residents, and how their paths ultimately cross) to describe the thoughts of beavers, moose, lichen, or to meditate on the creation of the world, or to jump back to medieval times to explore events of the Bible - it was easy to form a picture of the place, to differentiate the characters, and to understand the prevailing themes of interconnectedness and transience.

For some, this will be the story of a town and its residents. For others, this will be a religious novel, while others will find it a philosophical journey. Whatever the book is to each reader, I know that it will be unlike anything you have read before, and you will get something out of it, IF you open your mind and let yourself be swept away with the current of the story.
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