No Ceiling But Heaven

Mykal Mayfield Banta, Author St. Martin's Press $13.95 (196p) ISBN 978-0-312-01092-8
One remarkable achievement of this unusual first novel is its ability to wrest a sense of spiritual affirmation out of circumstances that at first appear to be uniformly dreadful. Twins Johnny and Bobby are born to a father whose life is circumscribed by monotonous factory work and drink, and a mother whose religious mania foreshadows full-blown madness. Acting out roles seemingly assigned to them at birth, the boys grow to become living representations of good and evil. Mentally retarded Johnny is, by default, his ""momma's little angel,'' while Bobby is ``a devil,'' a renegade whose asocial acts have him fleeing the police by the time he is 17. Narrated by Johnny in a series of lacerating reminiscences, the story conveys the small gains and large terrors of this family's lives over three decades. Though lacking the overview a more sophisticated narrative voice would supply, the events described take on a mythic quality in which the contending forces twinned in all people attain a moment of perfect balance. (February)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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