At the Foot of the Story Tree by Bill Sheehan (Hardcover ) Limited, signed by AuthorZoom

At the Foot of the Story Tree by Bill Sheehan (Hardcover ) Limited, signed by Author

At the Foot of the Story Tree by Bill Sheehan (Hardcover ) Limited, signed by Author
Item# atfoofsttrby
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New, may have edgewear. Hardcover with dust jacket. Limited to 500 copies, signed by author.

Sheehan tackles Straub's oeuvre with great intelligence and verve, providing new insights into an author whom I only thought I knew well. Beginning with Marriages, and ending with Mr. X, Sheehan delivers an affectionate, but rigorous inquiry, celebrating Straubs triumphs, but also gently taking him to task for his occasional excesses and misfires. Sheehan also brings his considerable knowledge of the genre into play, as when he recounts a 1981 exchange between Straub and an interviewer at NECON that Straub himself had forgotten. In Sheehan's own words,

"The interviewer asked Straub the arch and somewhat overly clever question, "What's the worst thing you've ever done?" Without missing a beat, Straub replied, "The worst thing I ever did was kill off Sears James. I loved him very much."

While Sheehan's chapters are uniformly excellent (hell, he single-handedly rekindled my interest in "Floating Dragon," a book I had heretofore viewed as a disappointment), he's at his best in his extensive, incisive exploration of Straub's Blue Rose Trilogy, comprised of Koko, Mystery, and The Throat. Sheehan deftly navigates those (purposely) muddied waters, making sense of the complex triptych and associated short stories, ultimately tying everything together in his chapter on The Throat. Here's a sampling from the first paragraph of Sheehan's chapter on that novel:

"The Throat, more than any of Straub's previous novels, is the literary equivalent of an extended jazz solo: a long, sinuous composition that circles and recycles a familiar series of themes, scenes, and characters, improvising its way toward a number of revelations that retrospectively illuminate the central events of both Koko and Mystery. In fact, the primary impetus behind the writing of The Throat was Straub's belief that he had not yet exhausted the emotional content of those books, and that their central elements--the war in Vietnam, the auto accident, his concern with the grief, bitterness and buried rage that are the frequent after-effects of childhood traumas--virtually demanded further elaboration. Added to this was Straub's obvious affection for the characters he had lived with for the past five years, particularly that battle -scarred survivor, Tim Underhill."

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