Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories

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W. W. Norton & Company, May 17, 2005 - Fiction - 224 pages
6 Reviews

Shortlisted for the National Book Award: "Joan Silber writes with wisdom, humor, grace, and wry intelligence. Her characters bear welcome news of how we will survive."—Andrea Barrett

Intense in subject yet restrained in tone, these stories are about longings—often held for years—and the ways in which sex and religion can become parallel forms of dedication and comfort. Though the stories stand alone, a minor element in one becomes major in the next. In "My Shape", a woman is taunted by her dance coach, who later suffers his own heartache. A Venetian poet of the 1500s, another storyteller, is introduced to a modern traveler reading Rilke. His story precedes a mesmerizing narrative of missionaries in China. In the final story, Giles, born to a priesthood family, leans toward Buddhism after a grievous loss, and in time falls in love with the dancer of the first story. So deft and subtle is Joan Silber with these various perspectives that we come full circle surprised and enchanted by her myriad worlds. National Book Award finalist. Reading group guide included.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JenneB - LibraryThing

I don't usually like short stories, because they often leave me feeling unsatisfied. But these each covered many years of a person's life, and that and the connections among them gave much more of a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - amyjmerrick - LibraryThing

This collection of linked stories covers a wide range of voices, places and time periods, but the pieces are connected through their reappearing characters and their twin preoccupations of sex and ... Read full review

Contents

MY SHAPE
13
THE HIGH ROAD
35
GASPARA STAMPA
65
ASHES OF LOVE
97
IDEAS OF HEAVEN
143
THE SAME GROUND
200
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About the author (2005)

Joan Silber is the author of six previous works of fiction. Among many awards and honors, she has won a PEN/Hemingway Award and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.

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