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All This Heavenly Glory [Hardcover]

Elizabeth Crane
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 21, 2005
In All This Heavenly Glory, Elizabeth Crane's second collection of interconnected stories, readers are taken on an amusing, if slightly disjointed journey through the life of Charlotte Anne Byers, a spunky six-year-old who grows into a cynical, yet cautiously optimistic adult. Those who enjoyed Crane's debut, When the Messenger Is Hot, will surely recognize and appreciate her sharp-witted humor and emotional honesty, but new readers may be put off by her somewhat rambling writing style.When we first meet Charlotte Anne, she is in the middle of penning a seven-page personal ad that is actually one long sentence, complete with tons of semi-colons and a few alphabetical lists thrown in for good measure. The ad itself is quite hilarious, it begins with a physical description and ends with a hilarious tribute to Owen Wilson; however, the lack of sentence structure may begin to confuse readers after about two pages. This first story is a template for much of what follows in the next 17 vignettes--witty, heartfelt and graceful sentiments are often marred by a chaotic rendering that makes it difficult to actually follow along with the protagonist. Still, Crane makes it wrothwhile for readers who can navigate the choppy waters of her writing style. She's at her best when describing Charlotte's feelings about particular places, be it New York ("Charlotte has been trying to get out of New York for years. It's not nearly as simple as booking a one-way flight. People get drawn back. Places seem inferior."), L.A. ("there's nothing but Fat Burgers and short pink buildings and more freeways on the freeway..."), or the imaginary Midwestern town she hopes to live in during her next life ("...I sit on the stoop and smoke my one (stale) cigarette of the week from my gold vinyl cigarette case under the almost dark five o'clock sky..."). If we're lucky, perhaps next time Crane will make these stirring moments of clarity easier for us to find. --Gisele Toueg

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In All This Heavenly Glory, Elizabeth Crane's second collection of interconnected stories, readers are taken on an amusing, if slightly disjointed journey through the life of Charlotte Anne Byers, a spunky six-year-old who grows into a cynical, yet cautiously optimistic adult. Those who enjoyed Crane's debut, When the Messenger Is Hot, will surely recognize and appreciate her sharp-witted humor and emotional honesty, but new readers may be put off by her somewhat rambling writing style.

When we first meet Charlotte Anne, she is in the middle of penning a seven-page personal ad that is actually one long sentence, complete with tons of semi-colons and a few alphabetical lists thrown in for good measure. The ad itself is quite hilarious, it begins with a physical description and ends with a hilarious tribute to Owen Wilson; however, the lack of sentence structure may begin to confuse readers after about two pages. This first story is a template for much of what follows in the next 17 vignettes--witty, heartfelt and graceful sentiments are often marred by a chaotic rendering that makes it difficult to actually follow along with the protagonist.

Still, Crane makes it wrothwhile for readers who can navigate the choppy waters of her writing style. She's at her best when describing Charlotte's feelings about particular places, be it New York ("Charlotte has been trying to get out of New York for years. It's not nearly as simple as booking a one-way flight. People get drawn back. Places seem inferior."), L.A. ("there's nothing but Fat Burgers and short pink buildings and more freeways on the freeway..."), or the imaginary Midwestern town she hopes to live in during her next life ("...I sit on the stoop and smoke my one (stale) cigarette of the week from my gold vinyl cigarette case under the almost dark five o'clock sky...").

If we're lucky, perhaps next time Crane will make these stirring moments of clarity easier for us to find. --Gisele Toueg

From Booklist

Crane took our breath away with her first short story collection, When the Messenger Is Hot (2003), and she now jazzes readers anew in a sequence of linked stories about the -coming-of-age of one Charlotte Anne Byers. An inveterate list maker, thoughtful Charlotte lives defensively in New York, city of pervs, with her beautiful mother and does her best to decipher school cliques, fashion do's and don'ts, and the relative creepiness of her friends' male relatives. Crane swings back and forth in time, opening windows on Charlotte's covert intelligence, practiced toughness, and persistent hopefulness throughout her fractured girlhood and tween and teen years, during which her goal is to simply keep it together, on into uneasy adulthood, where she drinks too much, falls for the wrong guys, finally finds her calling in film, and loses her mother to cancer. A nervy, tragicomic, and piercing social observer, Crane captures the danger, poignancy, and hilarity of life in her cascading stream-of-consciousness reports from the psyche of an irresistible seeker. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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on April 27, 2005
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