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STACEY D'ERASMO is a recipient of Guggenheim and Stegner Fellowships, the author of three previous novels and a book of nonfiction, The Art of Intimacy. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times (Magazine and Book Review), Bookforum, and Ploughshares, among others. She teaches in Columbia University's MFA program.
A luminous novel crafted in meticulous detail with shimmering language, D'Erasmo's third book tells the story of Gabriel Callahan's life, beginning with his father's abandonment when Gabriel was a child and tracing his ambivalent search for wholeness through adolescence and into adulthood. An obituary writer for a "half-assed tourist newspaper" in post-9/11 Manhattan, Gabriel is also an artist, creating still lifes from found and stolen objects. Gabriel's lover, Janos, a wealthy financier, hopes that Gabriel will abandon his marginal life and move in with him, but Gabriel steadfastly refuses, even when a health crisis threatens to undo him. An impulsive trip to Mexico leads him to a hardscrabble commune where he finds a belated clarity. The descriptions of Gabriel's artwork and his daily struggles comprise a dizzying trip through metaphor and expression, the undisputed centerpiece of which is the dazzling, complicated narration in vivid prose. This is a demanding and immensely satisfying novel, and certainly one of the better New York artist novels in recent memory. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
We first meet young Gabriel when his joys are few: playing make-believe with his older sister; creating art with his mother; building miniature cities out of Christmas boxes that cover the house. When his father abandons the family, however, Gabriel's world falls apart. His mother moves them to a dismal motel in Florida, and Gabriel grows up dealing drugs and turning tricks in men's restrooms. This reviewer wishes she could report that Gabriel's life improves as he gets older; instead, he works a dead-end job writing obituaries and dates an older man he doesn't love while he debates his meaningless life. This depressing story starts off promisingly, but several odd plot devices like a mysterious terminal illness and a tacked-on extended stay at a Mexican commune leave the reader with the disheartening feeling that if Gabriel doesn't care about himself, Why should we? Despite D'Erasmo's dexterity of language and approachable writing style, the double whammy of unlikable characters and an unruly plot makes it a forgettable reading experience.--Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Not about dissolution but redemption -- a revolutionary
concept...The Sky Below could be [D'Erasmo's] breakthrough,
a book that moves back and forth between the real world and the
elaborate layers of its characters' inner life.--Los Angeles
"In her conceptually brilliant, imaginative, brimming and suspenseful novel, her evocations of place are ravishing; her characters are at once richly human and magical, and their confounding predicaments are both commonplace and cosmic." --Los Angeles Times
" ...studded throughout are ringingly memorable lines, ones that make you see, hear, feel." --Boston Globe
"A beautifully written compilation of the small, strange specificities that make us each uniquely human." --Margot Kaminski, San Francisco Chronicle
"D'Erasmo's most complex and accomplished character to date...Gabriel's voice is irresistible." --New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"Intricately imagined and economically told, D'Erasmo's riddling
third novel made me want to start over as soon as I reached the
last page." --Bloomberg News
"THE SKY BELOW gathers narrative force as Gabe's tale becomes stranger, and as the cruel mingles with the tender in a way that startles and abrades. Cather, I think, would have been shocked and intrigued by this accomplished book." -- The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) "D'Erasmo writes beautifully, her sentences urgent, whispery, holding their breath as Gabe does, waiting for magic." --The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) "Part magical realism and part acid trip, The Sky Below is the stuff that dreams are made of." --Zink Magazine
"Rich in detail, with expertly spun sentences, this is a novel for connoisseurs of words." --Elle
"After two earlier, likable efforts, D'Erasmo moves to the top of her craft with THE SKY BELOW --She is an expert at listening to human nature." --Town & Country
"Stacey D'Erasmo has made a name for herself as a serious prose artist who describes tilted people with a level gaze." -- Newsday
"Gabe's story is both plausible and fantastic; even when reality is stretched thread-thin, it's engaging, thanks to Stacey D'Erasmo's prose, which manages to be both elegant and economical." -- New York Observer
"Hard-nosed but lyrical, unsentimental but moving, mythical but modern, The Sky Below is a precisely calibrated balancing act. It tells the story of a man who must stop living in a fantasy world, yet it never loses touch with the value of art and magic." -- Time Out New York
"...could be her breakthrough, a book that moves back and forth between the real world and the elaborate layers of its characters' inner life." -- Los Angeles Times
"...you can feel D'Erasmo's maturity and intelligence in this textured and vivid portrait of contemporary life." -- The Advocate "...full of brilliant, uncanny elements that intersect in ways both puzzling and true." --Bookforum