News from Heaven

Jennifer Haigh, Author
Jennifer Haigh. Harper, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-088964-7
Paperback - 244 pages - 978-0-06-088963-0
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-06-225343-9
Book - 978-0-06-226304-9
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-209738-5
Audio Product - 978-1-62406-223-0
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After her success with Baker Towers (2005), Haigh returns to the familiarity of Bakerton, Pennsylvania—the small coal mining "town of churches and bars" where "everybody knows your business"— for this short story collection that weaves through the generations of hopes, dreams, and regrets of a community. A dwindling "company town" set with identical "company houses", the mines had "employed nearly every man in town," but when they fail the residents were left to flounder. Some leave for better opportunities, like 16 year-old Annie who heads to New York City, hired as a housekeeper by an Upper West Side family. Sandy also flees Bakerton, its "bleak small-town life worse than jail," but his life of moving and gambling give him no peace of mind. And there are those who stay, such as Sandy's dependable sister Joyce, who could never leave because "freedom is, to her, unimaginable, as exotic as walking on the moon." The melancholia of these interconnected stories exude guilt, disappointment, and terminated dreams alongside a quiet strength in the memories of each former or current resident. Haigh skillfully explores a community and their conflicting sentiments of family and responsibility against desires for a future beyond the narrow scope of their hometown. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, William Morris Endeavor. (Feb.)
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