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Between Heaven and Here

Overview


No one's ever fallen out of love with Glorette Picard, with her black waterfall of hair and skin gold as a mothwing. Fine as wine and just my kind, they call her. Gilt, they call her. Still, when they drive by the alley where she works every night, they call her other things.

Now Glorette's body is found in that alley, folded up in a shopping cart. Before the dry creek swells and the orange groves blossom, Rio Seco, California, will bury the most beautiful woman who ever walked...

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Between Heaven and Here

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Overview


No one's ever fallen out of love with Glorette Picard, with her black waterfall of hair and skin gold as a mothwing. Fine as wine and just my kind, they call her. Gilt, they call her. Still, when they drive by the alley where she works every night, they call her other things.

Now Glorette's body is found in that alley, folded up in a shopping cart. Before the dry creek swells and the orange groves blossom, Rio Seco, California, will bury the most beautiful woman who ever walked its streets. In Susan Straight's most gracefully told novel, the heart of the Inland Empire is broken wide open to reveal the loyalty, the dark history, and the love that runs in the veins of a hidden America. Between Heaven and Here is gripping in its compassion— a portrait that “ought to be recognized as a national artistic treasure" (The Boston Globe).

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Roy Hoffman
…in a novel set in a world in which people are too often stripped of dignity, Straight has accomplished the larger act of ennobling her characters. She sees them clearly and gives them a striking presence on the page.
The Washington Post - Wendy Smith
…a messier book than its predecessor, but the raggedness feels necessary. Telling these stories in multiple voices, Straight reminds us that individual lives are indelibly shaped by shared history…Straight paints…moments of gruff tenderness with the same unsentimental lucidity she trains on the constant temptations of violence and despair, capturing the full human complexity of a segment of society too often reduced to stereotypes. Between Heaven and Here is the work of a clear-sighted, generous-hearted writer.
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

The mysterious murder of a hooker kicks off this exquisitely wrought final installment (after Take One Candle Light a Room) of Straight's trilogy, set in fictional Rio Seco, California. When Glorette Picard's longtime admirer, Sidney, discovers her body in a shopping cart in an alley behind a taquería, he fears the wrath or indifference of the police, and so claims her corpse as his responsibility, setting of a storm of consequences. Left behind to weather the world on his own is Glorette's young son, Victor, who memorizes SAT vocabulary words to drown out the crack dealers, and her uncle Enrique, who takes it upon himself to avenge her death. Straight plunges readers into a whirlwind of dialects, drugs, derelict homes, and delinquent locals as she weaves together the story of Glorette's life and death, while addressing weighty and timely issues like race, language, and the socioeconomically disenfranchised. Straight deftly avoids clichés and easy outs, and her refusal to vilify or sanctify the numerous members of her cast allows the experiences of each to resonate powerfully.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal
Who is Glorette Picard? Straight answers this question in the final installment of her "Rio Seco" novels, following A Million Nightingales and Take One Candle Light a Room. The novel begins with the death of the beautiful, drug-addicted Glorette. Former classmate Sidney, who loved her from afar, as many men did, finds her in a shopping cart behind a plaza. Her murder serves as the plot's catalyst, but the beguilement comes from learning about Glorette's family—her son, who struggles to break the bonds of his mother's life, and the uncle willing to kill again to avenge her death—and the family' friends who suffer from their own demons. Straight creates multidimensional characters who are neither villain nor hero. Most interestingly, she tells a story that transcends time, place, class, and race while simultaneously addressing those issues. VERDICT Reminiscent of Ronald M. Gauthier's Crescent City Countdown, this novel will appeal to lovers of suspense and Southern fiction.—Ashanti White, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro
Kirkus Reviews
Set several years before the events of Straight's Take One Candle Light a Room (2010), the third installment of her trilogy concerns the reactions and memories that a prostitute's death stirs up in the tightknit black community in Rio Seco, Calif. Video store employee Sidney Chabert notices Glorette Picard's body in a shopping cart in the alley behind the Mexican restaurant where he's just eaten. Glorette has become a streetwalker and a drug addict who has dangerously neglected her brilliant son, Victor. But like every guy who knew her in high school, Sidney has remained in love with Glorette, although it has been 20 years since she was an innocent, preternaturally beautiful girl growing up in orange groves that belonged to her "uncle," Enrique Antoine, and her father, Gustave--the men's binding relationship, their establishment of Rio Seco as a refuge for young women escaping a brutal white rapist in Louisiana, and the method by which Enrique gained ownership of the land are haunting subplots reaching back for generations. Once Sidney alerts Antoine's sons, they bring Glorette's body back to her family to be buried without police involvement. But her death roils the souls of all those whose lives she's touched, however tangentially. In less than 250 pages, Straight develops a lot of characters in surprising depth: Enrique is bound for vengeance, while Gustave is overwhelmed with silent grief. Glorette's former boyfriend Chess has remained devoted to her even after fathering a child with someone else. Enrique's sons can't quite leave their father's home despite wives who strive, with mixed success, to assimilate their children into middle-class America. There are Glorette's frankly skanky prostitute competitors and the men they service, or don't service. And there is Glorette's son, Victor, desperate to make it to college though thwarted at every turn. Straight (who is white but eschews the self-congratulating, cliché-laden condescension of books like The Help) employs glorious language and a riveting eye for detail to create a fully realized, totally believable world.
From the Publisher

"It is only the rarest of novels that cry for a sequel, the most unusual of stories that at once satisfies and leaves the reader aching for more. Susan Straight's remarkable Take One Candle Light A Room is such a novel. And she has satisfied our desires in Between Heaven and Here, a magnificent novel, that manages to be at once unflinchingly real and transcendently beautiful. Susan Straight is one of the very best American writers. If you haven't read her, you're in for a delight and an awakening. If you have, then you're probably as thrilled as I am that she has taken us back to Rio Seco."
—Ayelet Waldman

"Susan Straight finds LA’s secret heart in Between Heaven and Here and with a sleight of hand only the masters have, she creates an alley, a neighborhood, a history that is as rich and tragic as any Shakespearean tale."
—Walter Mosley

"Straight employs glorious language and a riveting eye for detail to create a fully realized, totally believable world."
Kirkus (Starred Review)

"Straight plunges readers into a whirlwind of dialects, drugs, derelict homes, and delinquent locals as she weaves together the story of Glorette's life and death, while addressing weighty and timely issues like race, language, and the socioeconomically disenfranchised. Straight deftly avoids clichés and easy outs, and her refusal to vilify or sanctify the numerous members of her cast allows the experiences of each to resonate powerfully."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Despite the tragedies that befall them, Straight’s characters still recognize the splendor of the natural world, from the pepper trees behind the taqueria to the orange blossoms in the alley scenting the midnight air. . . Straight’s group portrait of this community ought to be recognized as a national artistic treasure. Her focus on this singular place magnifies the hopes and disappointments of so many Americans, so many humans on earth."
The Boston Globe

"And yet, in a novel set in a world in which people are too often stripped of dignity, Straight has accomplished the larger act of ennobling her characters. She sees them clearly and gives them a striking presence on the page."
The New York Times

"Straight, a 2001 National Book Award finalist for Highwire Moon, has the ability to create straightforward contemporary voices, no pun intended. She does not subscribe to the maximalist school of over-the-top characters, yet she can still dramatize the complex, jagged nature of American culture today."
The Daily Beast

"Susan Straight has remarkable range as a writer. Her voice can be elegant in the rhythms and vocabulary of her narrative, yet also blunt and raw in dialogue... Her work is so intensely alive in its movement, action, and in the speech of her characters that reading it is almost like being caught in the center of a storm: exhausting but exhilarating at the same time."
The Rumpus

"How can a novel that is essentially the story of a dead prostitute prove so uplifting? It must be some kind of black magic that only Susan Straight can work . . . And by the end of this gorgeous and heart-wrenching novel, this family will be your people, too."
The Dallas Morning News

"Straight’s writing pulls the reader into a world that is both surreal and yet inescapably concrete, ugly and beautiful all at once. She binds the multifaceted perspectives together into a narrative that is fragmented but still very much whole."––BUSTLE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936365753
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/12/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author


Susan Straight’s new novel, Between Heaven and Here, is the final book in the Rio Seco trilogy. Take One Candle Light a Room was named one of the best novels of 2010 by The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Kirkus, and A Million Nightingales was a 2006 Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her novel Highwire Moon was a Finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. Her short story "The Golden Gopher" won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Story. She has published stories and essays in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Harpers, McSweeney’s, The Believer, Salon, Zoetrope, Black Clock, and elsewhere. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UC Riverside. She was born in Riverside, CA, where she lives with her family, whose history is featured on susanstraight.com.
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