The Company of Heaven : Stories From Haiti
PW Reviews 2010 August #5
Told rather than "written," Phipps-Kettlewell's tales are portraits of Haitian life. Since characters appear in multiple stories, and narrators rarely identify themselves, Haiti itself becomes a character. The prologue, a memory of childhood nights, evokes a sweep of sensation--cicadas and frogs, fireflies that resemble miniature angels, the touch of wood softened by vermin, the smell of the dark--that brings Haiti to vibrant life. Phipps-Kettlewell, whose previous book was verse, brings a poet's sensual acuity to her stories. "Dogs" tracks the descent into madness of a mother who has little time for her children, but fills her life and home with mongrel dogs. In "The Chapel," the building itself describes what has occurred within. The excellent novella, "River Valley Rooms," is a simple tale made complex by its formal daring; a collage of love and loss, it begins as a reminiscence of a homosexual brother but expands to depict complicated relationships with parents and lovers. Though Phipps-Kettlewell's lyrical, evocative, and lush style carries these stories, it can also create inertia; more attention to narrative would have made this truly a collection to treasure. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.