News From Heaven

News From Heaven

The Bakerton Stories

Book - 2013
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Now, in this collection of interconnected short stories, Jennifer Haigh returns to the vividly imagined world of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, a coal mining town rocked by decades of painful transition. From its heyday during two World Wars through its slow decline, Bakerton is a town that refuses to give up gracefully, binding--sometimes cruelly - succeeding generations to the place that made them.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060889647
Branch Call Number: SS HAIGH JENNIFE
Characteristics: 244 p. ; 24 cm


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Michael Colford Jun 03, 2013

Not having read Haigh's Baker Towers, the novel in which the small Pennsylvania town of Bakerton debuted, I wasn't sure if I'd be missing something when reading this collection of stories about people tired to that tiny, former mining-community. I needn't have worried, Jennifer Haigh is a writer of consummate skill, drawing me in and giving me just enough information to understand the context while spinning a series of tales that show how important our upbringings and our community roots affect our lives. With stories spanning the 40's era of war to present day, all the characters in News from Heaven have ties to Bakerton, PA, and each stories has subtle ties to the others, truly making the reader a feeling of community among these characters: community across generations. The Baker Family, founders of the once prosperous Bakerton mines, are ever-present in these stories, looming over characters' shared histories. I was concerned, at first, that most of the stories were going to revolve around timid young women who are taken advantage of in a variety of ways, but I shouldn't have worried, Haigh would never resort to such a limiting palette. Instead she creates a variety of experiences that exhibit strength, weakness, love, bitterness and a whole host of experience. I was particularly struck by ne'er-do-well Sandy's story; a man with a gambling problem, racing to escape his roots who comes to a possible turning-point on his 33rd birthday. We later find out what becomes of Sandy in a subsequent story, and both stories add up to something powerful and moving.

One final bit of praise, I just loved the meaning of the book's title: a lovely, poetic image.

JCLHunterSt Jun 02, 2013

Please keep in mind, I’m not a huge fan of short stories, but I’ve enjoyed Jennifer Haigh in the past and decided to give this book of 10 stories a try. The interconnected stories, beginning in the 1930’s and ending in present day were tender and touching, without being sappy. The stories blend well from one to another and they *almost* read like a novel.

Apr 06, 2013

I enjoy Jennifer Haigh's books and the diversity of her books. Having been raised in a factory town steeped in ethnic roots I identified with the characters. Well written and left me feeling melancholy--sad for those left behind in the town and for those who escaped due to the state of the town.


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