From the Publisher
“If you don’t know Lee Martin, you should….[River of Heaven] is a page-turner, both tender and tough, with real insight into how people live and breathe and love and worry.”
—Lincoln Journal Star
“Few writers could unfold Sam’s history with the grace and compassion of Lee Martin. River of Heaven is a wise and humane novel, a story of cowardice and courage and the torturous path between them.”
“In River of Heaven, Lee Martin has created that rare thing: a literary page-turner. This is a story about the corrosive power of a childhood secret, and the way our lives are shaped as much by what we withold as what we reveal. An elegantly structured, powerful and original novel, full of heart.”
“Lee Martin’s portrait of Sam Brady, a man in fear of his life and crippled by it, lingers painfully and persuasively.”
—Amy Bloom, author of Away
From the Hardcover edition.
Pulitzer finalist Martin (The Bright Forever) returns with a meandering, convoluted tale of an elderly gay man who gets jolted from his lonely life. Sammy Brady's quiet existence with his basset hound, Stump, gets interrupted by neighbor Arthur after Arthur's wife dies. Outgoing Arthur places himself in Sammy's tiny orbit, and the two are soon building a ship-shaped dog house for Stump while Sammy ruminates on a secret he's not ready to reveal. When a reporter for the local paper shows up to interview Sammy about the unorthodox dog house, the experience jars Sammy; the reporter is a relative of Dewey Finn, Sammy's childhood friend who mysteriously died on a railroad track. The slow pace picks up when Maddie, Arthur's granddaughter, arrives. Cal, Sammy's alienated brother, is soon on the scene, jump-starting a complicated plot that involves the Michigan Militia and a violent antiques collector bent on securing an item Cal's hiding. Not everyone survives what follows, and Sammy finally reveals the truth about his friend's long-ago death. Martin crafts eloquent sentences, though he often succumbs to Sammy's syrupy nostalgia and has trouble propelling a labyrinthine plot. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Sam Brady has led a quiet, isolated life for most of his 65 years. A closeted gay man in a small Illinois town in the 1950s, he has only his basset hound, Stump, as companion. Sam's solitary life is disrupted first when a recently widowed neighbor forces friendship on him and then when Sam's brother, with whom he shares a long-buried secret and from whom he's long been estranged, returns to town. Some implausibility in the plot contrivances cause many characters and situations to converge simultaneously; certain conspiracy theories involving terrorist plots belong in another novel. Martin's (The Bright Forever ) troubled male characters, struggling with defining their masculinity and sexuality in a community and era allowing for little divergence, ring truer than do his female characters. But Sam's coming to terms with himself and the value of human connection is affecting. For regional and larger public library collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.