Little bird of heaven : a novel / Joyce Carol Oates.
Booklist Reviews 2009 June #1
Zoe Kruller is as close to glamorous as life gets in the rough river town of Sparta, New York. Sexy, flirtatious, and ambitious, she hates her job at Honeystone Dairy, sings in a country-and-western band, and abandons her mechanic husband, Delray, and her son, Aaron. Krista Diehl admires Zoe's red fingernails and expressive voice, particularly when she sings the sweetly melancholy song "Little Bird of Heaven," but she is too young to understand that her handsome carpenter father, Eddy, is having an affair with Zoe. Until Zoe is brutally murdered. Prime suspects Delray and Eddy are slowly and tortuously destroyed over time by corrosive grief, suspicion, and remorse, leaving Krista and Aaron saddled with grim legacies and a dangerous mutual attraction. In this narcotic, unnerving, brilliantly composed tale of the struggle for control over the body's archaic urges, and the quest for morality in a catastrophically corrupted world, Oates creates magnetic characters of heightened awareness and staggering valor. As these sensitive stalwarts fight soul-strangling poverty, hate, crime, despair, and malignant desire, Oates captures with eviscerating precision the used-up, maligned, yet persistent beauty and spirit of stricken rural America, retaining her title as our great and tireless bard of erotic mayhem, malevolent dereliction, delirious anger, impassioned violence, and ferocious strategies of survival. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2009 May #2
A woman is murdered, her husband and lover are both suspects, and the son and daughter of the respective families are attracted, though each thinks the other's father did it. Vintage Oates, and the setting is Gravedigger country; this can't go wrong. With a 75,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
LJ Reviews 2009 September #2
Oates once again takes us to deteriorating upstate New York, this time the city of Sparta, where, as in We Were the Mulvanys, a tragic incident has devastating effects on two families. When Zoe Kruller is found brutally murdered, suspicion falls on husband Delray and on lover Eddy Diehl. Neither man is arrested, but each is forced to live under a veil of continued suspicion. In this story, it's the children who suffer the most, and they also narrate: first Eddy's daughter Krista and then Delray's son Aaron. Eddy separates from his wife and family and leaves Sparta, but Krista believes in her father's innocence, recounting life before and after the crime and offering her recollections of Zoe. Aaron recounts finding his mother's body and the bitterness of living with such notoriety. In typical Oates irony, Krista develops a crush on Aaron, climaxing in a deeply emotional scene; 15 years later they find out who killed Zoe. VERDICT Not Oates's best work, but her readers will find the psychological suspense combined with tragedy and redemption a good read. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09.]—Josh Cohen Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY[Page 51]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2009 July #3
Beneath the Sturm und Drang of Oates's third book of 2009 is the archetypal fairy tale: beauty and the beast. The beauties are the narrator, Krista Diehl, and Zoe Kruller, a waitress and singer who was murdered in Sparta, N.Y., in 1983. The beasts are the men, most notably Krista's father, Eddy, who, as Zoe's lover, is suspected in her murder, and Aaron Kruller, who discovers his mother's body and grows up repressing the thought that his father might have killed her. While the women are torn between attraction to the men and the need to escape them, the men must eventually be blooded, psychically and, in Eddy's case, physically. Eddy starts out a predator, with "tufts of animal-hair" sticking out of his undershirt, and ends up at the wrong end of a barrage of police bullets. While Zoe's murder and Eddy's suicide-by-cop five years later are the story's anchors, the heart of this novel is how Krista and Aaron are drawn together, however briefly. Oates unfolds the central gothic intuition—that beauty and the beast are complements—in a way that Charlotte Bront would highly approve. (Sept.)[Page 116]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.