Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Sky Below by Stacey D'Erasmo

A man struggles to heal himself from the trauma caused by his parents’ divorce

This novel starts off great- monumental, mythic, a tragic broken family story. Ambitious. It seems to be about a child’s introduction to our cold world of reality. Gabriel, our narrator, is a low energy huckster, another passive narrator. As he ages, his story becomes whimsical, meandering, random. There are lots of good literary tricks here – no ponderous introductions for new characters, only a vivid little smear. Gabriel is something of an artist. He makes art boxes with emotionally significant objects inside. There’s a great scene where we see the passage of time by his description of a box he could build. The problem was, for me, the book deflates in importance as the story goes on. Gabriel covets a house, he ghostwrites, he gets a mysterious cancer. I liked the end in Mexico, things become important again. The end was BIG. One of the elements  of the novel is a story from Ovid, about a family turning into birds. I’m not sure if that resonates as much as it could. The prose is rather plain. Overall, disappointing as I expected after the great beginning that it would be so good.

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