The Wars Of Heaven

Author: Richard Currey
Publisher: Santa Fe Writer’s Project
Star Rating: 3.5/5
Date Read: May 26th, 2014
Thank you to LibraryThing and the author for providing me with a copy of this book.

The Wars of Heaven is a book of short stories and also the novella ‘The Love of a Good Woman’, in which Currey paints a picture of working class America in the twenties and thirties. He tells the story of the every day – the marriage of a train engineer to a younger woman, the life and loss of coal miners, the wanderings of an epileptic man, a young boy whose birth robs his father of the love of his life, a robber who finds himself in a snowballing misunderstanding and finally in ‘The Love of a Good Woman’ we meet Delbert Keene, who could have been given his own novel. These people live, love a bit and they suffer too much as they work their way through life.

Currey brings to their stories to us, crafted with finesse and relayed in a poetic prose that draws vivid images to the forefront of the reader’s mind. Some of the stories were only a couple of pages long and it was enough, though these characters didn’t stay with me for as long the style in which they were written stood out. The novella of Delbert Keene, however, wasn’t long enough. It was engaging and funny, more than a little sad upon reflection, and Keene was a larger than life character who was just trying. It didn’t matter what for, he just tried. And you have to commend that in a person. I could have read a whole novel about him and where he went and who he spoke to and what happened next. He was an extremely interesting character, flawed and honest and I truly wonder what happened to him, as if he was someone who once existed.

These melancholic stories (there is not a great deal of hope to be found here) are presented with sensitivity and care. It is the grim reality of those times and Currey ensures you will not forget the feelings evoked, the stark images conjured. Even if you forget the stories and the characters (though I don’t think I will forget Delbert Keene) you won’t forget what you felt.

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