Challenge 51 ~”A short story from a well-known author.”
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The Ghosts of Heaven was not just one short story, but a collection of four, designed to be read in any order and focused on the idea of the spiral. As a fan of many of Sedgwick’s former works, I was looking forward to a short story by him, but found myself severely disappointed (as I have been with many of his recent novels). As opposed to an enjoyable read by Sedgwick, The Ghosts of Heaven became one of those Carnegie 2016 shortlisted novels that I questioned how it had been longlisted, yet alone made it that far.
It wasn’t that Sedgwick’s writing was terrible, but rather the plots (or lack of) that let the stories down. That, and the repetitively screamed metaphor regarding spirals in everyday life. Where there were plots, and the tale seemed to be progressing steadily, Sedgwick would bring it to an abrupt end, usually in a highly depressing manner, leaving the reader on a low-note and pretty unwilling to move onto the next short story.
Not all of the stories in the collection were without hope, however. Just when I thought that all hope had been lost, the final story (Song) presented me with a highly engaging plot that really Sedgwick should have developed into a full-length novel. A spaceship of iced people to save Earth that are being killed by an unknown person onboard? Count me in. Although, if the ending is going to remain as rushed, uncertain and not 100% satisfactory, I might retract that statement.
There are times that Sedgwick shines as a writer, and there are times I question reading his books. I don’t mind a tale that’s a little weird or out of the ordinary, but there’s always an element of ‘what?’ with some of Sedgwick’s. The Ghosts of Heaven is by far not among Sedgwick’s best works, with very disappointing endings from each story, and on the whole pretty poor plotlines. If Sedgwick has caught your attention, I’d recommend picking up Blood Red Snow White or My Swordhand is Singing instead – sometimes a short taste does not give the best of impressions.