Diane Glancy. Moyer Bell, $22.95 (120pp) ISBN 978-1-55921-271-7
Set in rural Missouri a few decades ago, this fifth novel from poet and novelist Glancy (Flutie; The Closets of Heaven) consists of short, evocative vignettes related by Hadley Williges, the eldest daughter of her quarrelsome family. Her fervently Christian mother, Ann, and Aunt Mary, seek the road to redemption, while her father keeps taking the road out of town. Hadley's dad, Bill, writes for the Kansas City Chronicle. He and his brother Farley, a photographer, travel the highways searching for stories and photos, earning Ann and Aunt Mary's wrath. After difficult college years, Hadley becomes a Chronicle reporter and travels with Farley. As they collaborate, her faith in Jesus and the Bible collides with his secular trust in human works. In single images, remarks and disjunct scenes, as if from a journalist's notebook, Hadley lays out each important moment of her maturation, from grade school to middle age. Many vignettes come with biblical epigraphs: some accompany passages from Aunt Mary's visionary journals (which also explain Glancy's mysterious title). After finding a disturbing secret in Mary's attic, watching her brother, Gus, descend into madness and losing her beloved sister, Nealy, to missionary work in Africa, Hadley is left with no clear answers but a resignation born of faith. While all the Williges are well drawn, Hadley is Glancy's finest creation. Given the number of evangelical Protestants in America, current American fiction contains surprisingly few sympathetic portraits of believers. Hadley and her life story come as a welcome, saddening, realistic and entirely convincing surprise. (Oct.) FYI: See Notes below for another forthcoming work by Glancy.
Reviewed on: 07/02/2007