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News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories (2013)

por Jennifer Haigh

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14720143,779 (4.13)39
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.… (mais)
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    SqueakyChu: A great sense of place in both books of short stories!
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News from Heaven is a collection of 9 short stories organized around the history of a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. The stories can stand on their own as independent stories but also have enough of the unifying theme about life in Bakerton, the book’s imaginary setting, to tie them together. It’s a good book.
Even though the book is a collection of stories, I feel like the best way to read the book is to read it as if it were a novel, starting one story right after finishing the one before.
The greatest strengths of the book are that the stories do an excellent job of character development, unusual in short stories. Each character is carefully drawn and realistic. In fact, realism is the second strength of these stories. While the book is fictional, the characters are so nuanced and the setting and situations so real that the book feels a lot more like non-fiction or history than it does a work of fiction.
Contributing to these strengths is that the characters are so diverse, unique individuals with personalities and lifestyles very different from one another. Again, this serves to make the stories very realistic.
While I liked all of the stories in this volume, I particularly liked the last, “Desiderata,” because I felt that the ending of the story was so beautifully told through implication and that Joyce, the main character, handled the situation in the way only a more mature and wise person could. Author Jennifer Haigh creates characters that are not only believable and real, but that she seems to have built on real life experiences and her own perceptive insight into not only the fictional character but into everyday real life as well. ( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 18, 2020 |
This was a well-written book of short stories about folks who currently live or previously lived in a fictitious coal-mining town in Pennsylvania. I chose this book to read while traveling though the coal mining section of northeastern Pennsylvania. I loved the characters and the stories in this book, reading them very quickly. In several of the stories, the same characters appeared at different times in their lives. I got a pretty good glimpse into the lives of coal miners or those related to coal miners after the mines shut down.

What I'm now finding disconcerting about reading short stories is that, going back over those stories I've read, I don't seem t remember as much about them as I do when I read novels. I thought that would not be the case with this book as I liked it so much as I was reading it, but I still had difficulty recalling details of the stories later. ( )
  SqueakyChu | May 29, 2019 |

With poignant stories spanning from the 40's to present day, all of the characters in this collection of short stories have ties to Bakerton, PA., a once-booming coal-mining town that has fallen on hard times. Each story is a snapshot of life in the residents of Bakerton, and all are told with great insight, compassion, and empathy. Although these characters first appeared in Baker's Towers, it's not necessary to read it first. I read that book years ago and remembered little.

This is not a book to devour at one sitting. I recommend reading them slowly and savoring them before moving on to the next. Each is thought-provoking and beautifully written.

Highly recommended and sure to be on my 2013 favorites list.
( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
Not as good as her novels but it's fun to read about Bakerton, PA. Haigh gets a little too ahistoric in this collection, imputing not so much values but memes from the news of today into the stories of the past. Won't go into too much detail but suffice to say that though she doesn't call the social ills back then how we would describe them now, she really gets a little heavy-handed at times. It's almost like she had a list of her most precious values and decided to check them off as she wrote each story. ( )
  TimDel | Feb 2, 2017 |
Linked short stories revisit the town and people of Bakerton, a mining town now in decline. Each story examines a key relationship - husband, wife, daughter, son, sister, brother, father, mother, teacher, friend. And the power of place is woven into and around each story as a common thread in the characters' place of beginning or ending. ( )
  Lcwilson45 | Mar 30, 2014 |
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Every Sunday morning, at seven o’clock promptly, two Polish girls crossed the park and walked fifty blocks downtown to church.
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In New York the outdoors had furniture. The outdoors was just like the indoors. (Beast and Bird)
The lie is smooth in her mouth, blameless white, lustrous as a pearl. (To The Stars)
Foreign cars, in those days, were rare in Bakerton. Even now you don’t see them every day. (Desiderata)
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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.

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