“The Weight of Heaven”

In my never-ending quest to find writers who are female and don’t write genre fiction (chick lit, romance, mystery), I was happy to stumble across “The Weight of Heaven,” by Thrity Umrigar.

Ms. Umrigar is a local author as well (though “local” is always relative, isn’t it?). She lives in Cleveland and teaches at nearby Case Western Reserve University. “The Weight of Heaven” is her fourth novel.

What I liked best about this novel was the seamlessness with which she traversed between narrators.  There was no gimmick (such as alternating chapters) to set them apart. The story and voices flowed elegantly from one character to another with no trouble keeping track of whom we were listening to.

The novel was everything I want a novel to be – expansive and personal, well written but subtle, rich and satisfying even if the ending is horrifying. As a writing mentor told me long ago, the ending should be unexpected but logical. Meaning, even if you don’t see it coming, the ending feels like it is the only way the story could have ended.

I’ve been thinking about the “weight” of things for the last few days, as I am now in the fortunate position to be working part-time and have more time and energy for my writing.

With the children no longer babies and my husband taking on the breadwinner role, the weight of family life has lessened tremendously. I feel now I recapture the lightness and fancy that is so essential to my creative life.

Now, too, is the time to publish my collection of short stories. I gave myself 2009 to find a mainstream editor and/or publisher but that did not happen. In addition to more time for my creative side, I will also have time to use my professional marketing skills to get a plan together to get this collection out there and into my fans’ hands.

As a character in “Sideways” said, “Just get it out there! Get it in libraries!”  And I shall.

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