Little Bird of Heaven

Little Bird of Heaven

by Joyce Carol Oates


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061829840
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/31/2010
Pages: 442
Sales rank: 598,603
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been several times nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. Her most recent novel is A Book of American Martyrs. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.


Princeton, New Jersey

Date of Birth:

June 16, 1938

Place of Birth:

Lockport, New York


B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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Little Bird of Heaven 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
headinclouds More than 1 year ago
As always she delivers a dense portrait of characters in captivating situations. Highly recommended. Unbelievably my last order on line with B&N was delivered to me in 5 hours...How do they do that? I ordered it at 2:30 and it was in my home before I got home from work at 7:30. AMAZING.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1983 in Sparta, New York Zoe Kruller and Eddy Diehl are having an affair. She is a gentle beauty while he is kick butt tough guy. All is great between these opposites until her young son Aaron finds her murdered body. The police hone in on the two male adults in Zoe's life, her spouse and her lover. Five years after the homicide, the police arrive at Eddy's home. He refuses to cooperate and instead challenges the cops even as his horrified daughter Krista watches the macabre event as if it is a movie scene. He is shot down in what is called a suicide; case closed as far as the cops and the people of Sparta are concerned, but not the survivors. Instead their respective offspring are traumatized by events, but though they try to move on separately, neither can. Then they meet. LITTLE BIRD OF HEAVEN is a fabulous character study that looks deep at the offspring generation surviving a tragedy. Krista tells the tale, which focuses on psychological defense mechanism employed by her (denial her father might have done the deed) and by him (denial that his mom was having an affair). Neither is able to move past the respective defining moments in their lives, seeing the corpse of a parent who had a violent death. Fans will relish prolific author Joyce Carol Oates's latest psychological suspense as Krista and Aaron meet each other and the ghosts they carry inside their hearts. Harriet Klausner
sojourner8 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It surprised me how bored I became soon after starting this book; not at all the reaction I usually have with her writing.
SamSattler on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Little Bird of Heaven is vintage Joyce Carol Oates, so much so, in fact, that fans of her writing will immediately recognize the novel¿s setting and tone. Krista Diehl, the young girl whose father Eddie is suspected of the brutal murder of his mistress, is beginning to realize just how dangerous the world can be for a girl fast approaching sexual maturity. She is both repelled and fascinated by the boys and men with whom she is beginning to come into contact, and what her father is accused of having done leads her to the conclusion that men are dangerous beings. When her father one day emotionally grabs her by the wrist, her first thought is ¿Always you are astonished. Their size, their height. Their strength. That they could hurt you so easily without meaning to.¿Zoe Kruller was somewhat of a minor celebrity in little Sparta, New York. She was the best thing that her bluegrass band had going for it and any performance of theirs at the local park was guaranteed to attract the attention of a large number of male admirers, men who found it difficult to resist Zoe¿s charms. To Krista, however, Zoe was the woman who served her ice cream at the local dairy and always remembered her name. She was Krista¿s friend. That she was also her father¿s mistress and that he would be accused of her bloody murder would change Krista¿s life forever.Also changed forever by Zoe¿s murder would be her son Aaron, a boy whose own father is believed to be the most logical suspect in the murder if Eddie Diehl can prove that he is not the killer. Aaron, already on somewhat of a downward spiral of his own, is as certain that his father is not guilty of the crime as Krista is sure that her own father did not do it. Krista¿s determination to find the truth about her father and his relationship with Zoe Kruller leads her to become as obsessed with Aaron Kruller as her father had been obsessed with the boy¿s mother.Oates tells her story from two distinct points-of-view. The first half of the book is filtered through the eyes of Krista Diehl who is really too young to understand everything that she discovers about the murder. This part of the book focuses on the gradual disintegration of the Diehl family which results from everything that happens to them following the murder. Aaron Kruller narrates the second half of the book and, since he is older than Krista, he fills in some of the blanks of Krista¿s version of the events before and after his mother¿s murder. Inevitably, these two young people have so much in common that their paths cannot help but cross ¿ in a way that neither of them could have imagined and from which each are lucky to come out whole.Little Bird of Paradise is a novel about self-discovery, pain, loss and how children so often have to pay for the sins of their parents. It is well written, as is almost always the case in a Joyce Carol Oates novel, but it is sometimes not easy to read because one feels, almost from the start, that its two narrators are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their fathers. This sense of impending doom will, however, keep readers turning the pages all the way to the end.Rated at: 5.0
LynnB on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favourite authors. She knows how to tell a great story and to develop characters that stay with me. This novel is dark, like most of her books, filled with both passion and violence. It explores the impact of being a "person of interest" in a murder investigation. When local celebrity, Zoe Kruller, is found brutally murdered, both her husband, Delray, and her married lover, Eddy Diehl are questioned by the police, but neither is charged. The murder remains unsolved, leaving both Delray and Eddy under some cloud of suspicion, with those in the community believing one or the other to be guilty. This affects both men and their families.The novel is told from the perspective of their children: Krista Diehl and Aaron Kruller, both of whom believe their father is innocent. Yet, both struggle with what they know of their parents behaviour: adultery, drug and alcohol problems. Their lives are linked by the murder and they come together in situations that are violent and/or passionate.One thing I especially like about this book, and this author, is that she knows how to end a story. There is both closure and, at the same time, room to wonder where life will now take Krista and Aaron.
karynwhite on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An interesting read, although I found the part told by Krista quite slow moving but a lot of time was covered, so maybe the feel matched the time covered. The novel deals with families - like other novels by the author. It is quite thought-provoking once you finish the novel. The third part of the novel is especially thought-provoking.I would recommend it to others but not if you like action-packed fiction.
Kasthu on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I first discovered Joyce Carol Oates about ten years ago, when I read one of her short stories (¿Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?¿ It¿s a MUST read, by the way). I fell in love with her stories and novels because of the subject matter; Oates¿s novels usually deal with obsession usually of the sexual kind (them is a perfect example of this). Oates¿s novels are always dark and gritty, never easy reading but somehow satisfying nonetheless. Little Bird of Heaven is Oates at her best.The setting is a working-class town in upstate New York (typical Oates) in the 1980s. The story isn¿t told linearly, but unfolds gradually over time. Some of the information we¿re given is repeated, but each time the story is told from a different point of view. Krista Diehl is the daughter of Eddy Diehl, suspected of but never charged with the murder of a local singer named Zoe Kruller, with whom he was romantically involved. On the other side of the coin is Aaron Kruller, the woman¿s son. Both he and Krista become obsessed with the murder of his mother¿and, by extension, with each other, in a weird way. The first half of the book is told from Krista¿s perspective, the second from Aaron¿s.Part of the beauty of Oates¿s novels is a common theme that runs throughout: obsession. Krista and Aaron are of course obsessed with Zoe Kruller¿s murder; Eddy Diehl is obsessed with clearing his name and having his life returned to normal. Another thing I loved about this book is the not-knowing; the reader never really knows until the end for sure who killed Zoe Kruller, and that¿s part of what kept me turning the pages. And yet Eddy Diehl certainly does keep acting guilty, doesn¿t he? I certainly think he does feel guilt, in a way, but maybe he didn¿t really do it?Another thing I love about Oates¿s novels is her prose. I¿m pretty sure that, if you plugged one of her sentences into Microsoft Word, it would flag that sentence as a run on; but Joce Carol Oates¿s writing is pure poetry. She breaks the rules of writing in a way that only she can. Sure, she does use a fair bit of profanity, which can be a bit disturbing. It¿s also exhausting at times to read, but well worth the effort of doing so. The only thing I didn¿t really get was Aaron Kruller¿s voice, especially as a child; I doubt that a boy of eleven, especially one with a bad reputation, would call his parents ¿Mommy¿ and ¿Daddy.¿ Also, Oates goes a little bit overboard on the Elvis comparisons (it seems that a lot of people in Sparta, New York look like him!) But other than that, I highly recommend this book.
bhowell on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is another wondeful novel from one of my favourite authors, Joyce Carol Oates. The story takes place in a small city in upstate New York. A young woman is brutally murdered and suspicion falls on two men, her husband and her longtime lover, a married man. Two families are torn apart as the mystery remains unresolved until the shocking conclusion. Achingly sad and a very good story.
OneMorePage on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A woman is murdered in a small town in central New York. Her former lover is accused, then released. Her former husband is accused, then released. Her murderer was never found.The ex-lover's teenager daughter tells the story from her point of view. How her father lost his job, then her parents broke up. How her father became a drifter who would occassionally wander into her life, then back out. How her brother rejected their father, and how she eventually rejected her brother. And how her world collides with the son of the murdered woman.The the story is told again, from the perspective of the victim's teenage son. How his parents came to break up. How his mother left him with his alcoholic father. How he found his mother's dead body. How his life deteriorated, and how he came to save the life of his mother's ex-lover's teenage daughter.Then, years later, these now-adult children are brought together and told the real truth of how the murder happened, the murder that changed the paths of their lives.Original approach, well-crafted, yet another beautiful read from the master, Joyce Carol Oates.
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Drbentley More than 1 year ago
I love Joyce Carol Oates, but this book moves way way too slow. What a disappointment.
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lovetoreadMH More than 1 year ago
I just could not get into this book. I did not like the writing style. I thought I had read books of hers before, but this one just did not make me want to even continue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very boring, uninteresting book. Not sure why I bothered finishing it.