Ideas of Heaven

Ideas of Heaven Intense in subject yet restrained in tone these stories are about longings often held for years and the ways in which sex and religion can become parallel forms of dedication and comfort Though the s

  • Title: Ideas of Heaven
  • Author: Joan Silber
  • ISBN: 9780393326871
  • Page: 133
  • Format: Paperback
  • Intense in subject yet restrained in tone, these stories are about longings often held for years and the ways in which sex and religion can become parallel forms of dedication and comfort Though the stories stand alone, a minor element in one becomes major in the next In My Shape , a woman is taunted by her dance coach, who later suffers his own heartache A Venetian poIntense in subject yet restrained in tone, these stories are about longings often held for years and the ways in which sex and religion can become parallel forms of dedication and comfort Though the stories stand alone, a minor element in one becomes major in the next In My Shape , a woman is taunted by her dance coach, who later suffers his own heartache A Venetian poet of the 1500s, another storyteller, is introduced to a modern traveler reading Rilke His story precedes a mesmerizing narrative of missionaries in China In the final story, Giles, born to a priesthood family, leans toward Buddhism after a grievous loss, and in time falls in love with the dancer of the first story So deft and subtle is Joan Silber with these various perspectives that we come full circle surprised and enchanted by her myriad worlds National Book Award finalist Reading group guide included.

    • Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber
      133 Joan Silber
    • thumbnail Title: Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber
      Posted by:Joan Silber
      Published :2019-05-19T05:32:39+00:00

    2 thoughts on “Ideas of Heaven

    1. Joan Silber is the author of six previous works of fiction Among many awards and honors, she has won a PEN Hemingway Award and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.

    2. Just finished this, and was so moved and entertained. A profound work of art I think. More tk on this writer soon.

    3. Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber is subtitled "A Ring of Stories" because the stories are connected one to the next, and they come full circle in the end – someone mentioned in passing in one story reappears as the protagonist/narrator in the next until the last story is tied back to the first.The stories are also linked by a running theme: Silber explores the ways in which sex, love and religion are "always fighting over the same ground – with their sweeping claims, their promises of transpor [...]

    4. Insanely good writing here. Such richness. These are not sliver-tales of crystal, perfect moments, they are entire lives contained in 35 or so pages each. I quite marvel at her audacity and skill. Silber is a marvelous story-teller. As Anthony Doerr says, "the ardor with which they [the characters] yearn for their respective heavens will break your heart.

    5. These stories really fell flat for me. If I was not required to read this book for a writing class, I would have put it down during the first story. First, Silber uses the SAME voice and clipped pacing for each of her stories, which are supposed to take place across generations, cultures and locations. Each story is told in first-person, from the point of view of vastly different characters. Yet she uses the same voice and style for each. It's really very distracting. Second, as other reviewers [...]

    6. Well. I gave this a shot despite it not being my thing- the author taught at the Sarah lawrence program (and teaches there regularly) and I liked what she read there. In truth, it was well written, but the style was a bit hard to take - she basically talks to you the entire time, and the 'ring of stories' (I m not a fan of the long short stories, personally) didn't seem to connect, to me, other than people having really unhealthy attitudes toward love. Despite all that, I finished it in a few ho [...]

    7. Ideas Of Heaven: A Ring Of Stories by Joan Silber was so delightful and easy for me to polish off, it took some time to register just when and where her characters began to haunt me. All six stories are written in first person narrative. Each voice has its own rhythm, tone and charm — their narration has a deceptive ease which makes their uniqueness all the more remarkable. As I read I began to feel like the bartender in whom complete strangers are only too happy to confide their most troublin [...]

    8. What I liked about the stories: I liked the pacing, the ability to plausibly fit biographies and hard life-adaptations into 20 or 30 pages of story. It's very different from the short time-frames I usually read in short stories.I wasn't crazy about the style. Too simply conversational, too parsed and easy to digest. And really, people across time periods from different cultures think so alike? They just use different vocabularies? This was my main beef with the book -- the style of discourse was [...]

    9. Finding Grace Through Loss[Review from 2006] I usually read only novels, but this is what the author calls a ring of six first-person stories, linked by the device of having a person or idea mentioned in a minor way in one story becoming the main subject of the next. Far more important than these surface links, however, is the commonality of theme that ties these first-person narratives together, even though their narrators alternate between male and female and their locales range from Renaissan [...]

    10. "What is Love doing to me? I thought. That question itself comforted me. So I was ruled by Love, his follower. Chosen to serve. I was like a priest being sent to a different parish." With traveling "even when you can't wait to get out of some hellhole you've chosen to visit, later you're never sorry you were there." "And when I came back from Yosemite, after not speaking to another person for a week, tired and unbathed and rank-smelling, I was more changed than I'd expected. it was not that I wa [...]

    11. Like "Fools," I read this once, then turned around and read it again just to get a better view of the connections between the stories. They're worth the attention. I've been on a Silber streak; I like her voice, and I've enjoyed what this author has to say about people and life and their thoughts, longings, and lies, and while some may feel this collection is too serious, I found it hopeful as well. "I watched her, as if I had invented her, out of my own cleverness; as if this were the only life [...]

    12. I usually really enjoy short stories that link in some small way to the previous ones, the next one but I guess the theme never really drew me in. I kept waiting for it to get better, but many of the stories I wished I hadn't wasted my time reading. Maybe the links were too obscure for me--I tend to read multiple books at the same time, so have 2-3 days in between going back to a particular book, and if I had read this straight through I may have been more impressed. Enjoyed the first and last s [...]

    13. These stories are interesting in that every one of them -- though short -- tells a full life story, and altogether they bring the reader around the world and across the centuries. The writer's voice is straightforward and clear as she tells of the characters' great passions, and while her tone didn't captivate me for its own sake, many of these stories moved me deeply and brought tears to my eyes.

    14. The problem is after 5 stories in, it got a little tiring. The characters started getting on my nerves. They were all the same people but had different historical backgrounds, clothes, genders but it was still the same person So in that case, I think the author has some work to do to not sound like the same person across 5 stories. The ending did finally connect with the beginning but it started becoming a drag to get there.

    15. A well-written"ring" of stories that made me keep flipping back and forth to find out the connections among characters, etc. I discovered her due to an interview she did in the Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers, and her book lived up to the meticulous writing that I expected. Some of the stories were "jst" good, but many were great or amazing.

    16. Several short stories in which a minor character in one is the major protagonist in the nexr story. Interesting idea carried out moderately well.

    17. Short stories that explore the idea that sex and falling in love are interchangeable with religious reverence and exultation

    18. I picked this up b/c Anthony Doerr compared it to A Visit from the Goon Squad in the Morning News Tournament of Books. POST-READThis book is interesting in the way that minor and major characters spill from one story to the next in a casual, unintentional fashion. In the last story, you re-meet some characters from the first story, which completes the "ring" of stories. This strategy appealed to me in the same way that I liked A Visit From The Goon Squad, but I didn't like Ideas of Heaven quite [...]

    19. I liked this book deeply - it's a book that pulled me into that deep, still place that you can sometimes find when you're absorbed in finding out what happens next, rather than being aware of the fact that you're reading, and your tea is cooling, and it's raining outside (or hot, and the laundry needs switching, and there are errands to run).The book is a sequence of short stories, and while Alice Munro is mentioned in the inside flap, I liked this book much better than Runaway. For one, the sto [...]

    20. When the Creative Writing Program brought Joan Silber to campus for a reading this past May, Yellow Dog Books was there selling her books. I bought this one, having already read FOOLS with the grad class I teach with Trudy Lewis. Like Fools it is an exquisitely written, linked cycle of stories. Ideas of Heaven ranges more widely in time from Renaissance Italy in Gaspara Stampa to the present. It also ranges over more territory from the very disturbing title story about American missionaries in C [...]

    21. I think this book is astonishingly good, one of the best story collections I've read in some while. I'm currently interested in "linked" stories, and I will come back to this collection to study how the stories work together both structurally and thematically. I also found Silber's themes of relationship and loss to be spot on. Silber is a "smart" writer, but for me the stories were accessible and they held my interest. I was fascinated by the way she gives some of the stories historical setting [...]

    22. The epitome of the "linked" or "composite" novel, Ideas of Heaven gives us a new appreciation of the short story. However, the fact that the stories were linked by character relationships from one to the next was relatively unremarkable, in my mind, compared to the tone of Silber’s voice. And though there's been a fair amount of time spent talking of this genre as one that’s been around but has only of late been officially recognized, it was in talking about Silber’s stories – her someti [...]

    23. This collection of linked stories covers a wide range of voices, places and time periods, but the pieces are connected through their reappearing characters and their twin preoccupations of sex and religion. Silber’s stories read like novellas, capturing whole lives in thirty pages, the sections of narrative monologue punctuated by precisely rendered scenes. Her characters are artists and seekers, so they are theatrical and introspective, able to see themselves with detachment and humor, as pla [...]

    24. Made it through the first hundred pages, but struggled to do so. In fairness, I was stuck (and tired) at LAX, so it might not have had my full attention. However, unlike Strout, who at least had some story, there didn't seem to be much craft. The stories were so quiet that I have a hard time imagining that I'd get much out of it even if I gave it full-throttled attention. Could absolutely be that I'm missing something, and judging by the responses here that might be likely, but I didn't find any [...]

    25. What an incredibly blah book!! It astounded me to learn it was a finalist for the National Book Award. Of the six stories, only one or two were even worth reading. The best story is Ashes of Love and it earned one and a half of these two stars. The last story was okay, nothing great. Ideas of Heaven was not an enjoyable book. Many times I felt myself reading for the sake of reading and coaxing my way through the stories.Although I just finished this book moments ago, I'm certain I'll be selling [...]

    26. I really enjoyed this book. I liked how the stories entertwined, and a character from one would pop up in another, and I would get a completely different take on the character's behavior or motives. Sometimes it was just a glimpse, but it would explain something said by another character in another story. The stories were well written, and I liked how they weren't all contemporary. I don't think her writing style was as effective for the stories in Italy and China, but still quite enjoyable. The [...]

    27. This is my favorite book and one of my favorite authors by I can't get her to show up among my favorite authors! For years this has been my favorite book of short stories or inter-connecting novellas depending on where you put the word count for short stories vs. novellas. I would count these as novellas but I love the novellas and write them. writing them, I've gotten the impression that readers or publishers or agents very much dislike novellas--which I can't understand. Personally, I'd much p [...]

    28. I'd not heard of this book when a friend loaned it to me, though it was a National Book Award Finalist about five years ago. It's a series of interconnected short stories, contemporary and historical, all centering around the longing for love and for spiritual fulfillment. The narrators are female and male, gay and straight, contemporary and historical; the stories are spare but revealing, often very moving, and much more so cumulatively. This is a book that didn't take me very long to read, but [...]

    29. This book is a collection of short stories, and they were loosely tied together in theme or context. I'm not a big fan of stories; not sure why - I find that it's difficult to get really drawn into a short story. I would imagine also that it's much more difficult for a writer to fully develop characters and a plot in a short story rather than having the luxury of many pages to develop them. Although the stories were well written, the only one that I felt really affected by was the story of the m [...]

    30. Nice group of intertwined stories. Except for the second, the individual protagonists seemed a bit monochromatic. Also, the central thesis of the book, how religion and romantic love are to some degree interchangeable and equivalent, seemed a bit belabored. However, the deft at which the author wove the interconnectedness of the stories and the themes made up for these shortcomings. Worth reading.

    31. The interlinking short story is my favorite genre, so I was fated to love Ideas of Heaven. However, I do wish some of the stories were more closely linked. In particular, the title story of a missionary family besieged in China would have benefited from a stronger link to the next story. But that may just be praise thinly disguised as criticism; the missionary story was so intense and amazingly well written, it simply left me wanting more. Keep writing, Ms. Silber!

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