Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Canuck Book Extra Credit 1 - Heaven is Small by Emily Schultz

What Mr. Mutford wants, he gets. Just 47 books shy of 1000 books for the year, John asked us to read more Canadian this month. So I did. Here goes:

Man dies but doesn't realize it.

Man takes subway and bus to the far reaches of suburbia for a job interview.

Man gets job as proofreader at Heaven, a huge corporation that publishes romance novels.

Man starts to suspect something.

I've been reading Emily Schultz for years. She spent time editing Broken Pencil magazine, put out a series of micro chapbooks by anonymous authors (the pocket canon series) and published a good collection of stories, Black Coffee Nights. Her first novel (Joyland) wasn't as good as I'd hoped but it kept me interested. Which was a good thing because Heaven is Small is a really good novel. Not perfect, but a very enjoyable read.

I don't really want to say more about the story than I already have because a good part of the fun of this book is the little surprises, the revelations when you start to understand how things work in the world of heaven. Needless to say, it's well thought out with large doses of humour mixed with darker details. I thought the ending was a little rushed. As I noticed myself getting closer to the back cover, I started to worry that there wouldn't be enough time to finish thing. After finishing, I still think the book could have gone a little longer.

But that's a minor quibble. The book is fun and well constructed. A while ago, Schultz was showing up on lists of young Canuck writers to watch. This book proves the lists were right.

ps - My other minor quibble is the dust jacket. Not exactly the best cover design if you want to get men to read the book (and they should).


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I am jotting her name down! This sounds like a must read to me.

And good for you, taking one for the Canadian Book CHallenge team!

John Mutford said...

I loved her short story "I Love You, Pretty Puppy," but that's all I've read. I totally agree with you about the dustjacket (Title too, for that matter).