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News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories (P.S.) Paperback – January 7, 2014
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In this collection of interlinked short stories, Haigh returns to Bakerton, Pennsylvania, and the characters she created for Baker Towers (2005). As the once prosperous mining town crumbles around the residents, family secrets are uncovered, lessons are learned, and the inhabitants seem to discover that the world around them is not the sum of the world, indeed. “Beast and Bird” finds a young woman working as a maid to a Jewish family in New York City—a very different kind of place from her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. “Something Sweet” follows a spinster teacher and her star pupil, a young man who is adored by the girls but beaten by his male classmates for being different. And in “What Remains,” the town sees the last remaining heir to the Baker Brothers coal mines suffer an ignoble death. Haigh has a gift for creating believable characters of all kinds and placing them into realistic—often heartbreaking—situations. A must-read for fans of Baker Towers and a good addition to all short story collections. --Rebecca Vnuk --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
“An uplifting and radiant book.” (Janet Maslin, New York Times)
“Elegant stories. . . . Haigh uses well-timed plot twists to infuse them with bright new energy.” (People)
“A vibrant, thought-provoking, profoundly readable contribution to the genre. . . . Each of these ten linked stories represents a distinct, shining example of Haigh’s remarkable gifts for lyricism, psychological insight, and stealth humor.” (Boston Globe)
“Outstanding… News From Heaven fits quite comfortably in the company of the hybrid novel-in-stories made so popular by predecessors such as Jhumpa Lahiri…and Elizabeth Strout…For Haigh, this small town is a large canvas, one filled in with precise, poignant strokes.” (Washington Post)
“Haigh has a fine eye for how time works on characters’ theories about themselves…. Haigh, whose first book won the PEN/Hemingway Award, has a sure grip on her characters and a belief in place as a determining factor in the shapes of our lives.” (New York Times Book Review)
“This collection of short stories shows depth, understanding and compassion. . . . Haigh’s narratives are beautifully realized stories of heartbreak, of qualified love, and of economic as well as personal depression.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Jennifer Haigh’s stories rove across time and cultures as easily as they render the tendernesses and longings and hardscrabble deprivations of home. NEWS FROM HEAVEN is well-named, given that its unsentimental compassion and observational acuity. . . is just what we need right now.” (Jim Shepard, author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway)
“The characters in Jennifer Haigh’s NEWS FROM HEAVEN are so vividly drawn, the inner lives revealed so deftly, with such intelligence and sympathy, that fictional Bakerton, Pennsylvania, takes on the additional weight of, say, Winesburg, Ohio.” (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Empire Falls)
“Jennifer Haigh has accomplished what James Joyce did in Dubliners and Sherwood Anderson in Winesburg, Ohio: render a place with such exactitude the landscape, character, and fate are inextricably linked. One of America’s finest novelists, Haigh is now one of our finest short story writers as well.” (bestselling author Ron Rash)
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Top customer reviews
What happens, and what has happened, to and by the decent folks of Bakerton, are what the writer reveals elegantly, lyrically, with psychological insight, depth of understanding, and with no shortage of compassion and sympathy. Secrets are discovered by characters, accepted, sometimes poignantly, other times with gentle surprise. These people are resilient, and they adapt, but it's not necessarily easy.
Stories often ending with uplift, but more importantly, these are honest, vividly rendered, real, characters who manage to move on. How Ms. Haigh does all she does in these stories is a real human pleasure I enjoyed.
They were excellent shots of everyday life, and maybe if some of the brighter spots were a bit more punctuated, it would have been more compelling to read. Granted, the overall subject matter is not something that can be glossed over, but surely it could have been made a bit less depressing.