Between Heaven and Here

Susan Straight, Between Heaven and Here (San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2012).

Straight - Between Heaven and Here
A novelist must be able to write dialogue. Susan Straight can write dialogue. But it is monologue that she uses to mesmerize her readers. She writes the internal monologues of her characters who are like no one I have ever met. At the same time those characters are totally believable. I’ve never lived on the streets in the tough neighborhoods of Southern California. I don’t speak the lingo. I don’t know the stories of the creole people who migrated to the orange groves when life in Louisiana became impossible. But I do know their story because Susan Straight is a master storyteller.

She writes like I imagine those people sound. Whether it is one side of a phone conversation or the thinking of an often alone teenager trying to find his way in the world, she seems to have gotten it right. This is a powerful and emotional novel that deserves to be read again and again. It may be a chronicle of our times – or of a different place in this new generation.

Susan Straight has written eight previous books. I wonder why it took me so long to find her work. I’ll be reading more of her.