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Walking in Paradise [Paperback]

Libby Creelman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2000

Newfoundland writer Libby Creelman finds the emotional heart of her characters — characters continually seeking, and breaking, connections with others, though they rarely know it. A girl welcomes cruelty into her life in an attempt to get closer to a father living with chronic pain. A woman obsessed with her lineage draws her family into inheriting more than they bargained for. A young boy, burdened by the adults with whom he keeps company, arrives at the end of a brief sailing trip directing their futures as well as his own. A woman returns home to spend a weekend with old high school friends and at last understands something about her mother that had been trailing her for years.

Suddenly her voice turns soft, almost tender. `But you know what you used to say at bedtime, don't you? You used to hold my face in your hands, and say, ``You're the best mommy in the universe.'' '... She wants us to savour the image of me holding her face, cherishing her, reading her mind.

These are stories about dislocation and about home -- about leaving it, returning to it, needing it, rejecting it -- crafted in a style that is controlled, yet sympathetic.


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Product Description

From Amazon

In Walking in Paradise, Newfoundland-based writer Libby Creelman's debut short story collection, the subject is the family. Her view of the institution is a dark one, but her characters are hardly villains. Like the Wizard of Oz gang, each is missing some necessary human trait--compassion, grace, kindness, understanding. As Oleen in "Boat Ride" describes her barely tolerable mother, "There is a crumbled feebleness beneath her shiny surface that softens the disheartening effect her words have on me."

The book opens with a coming-of-age story entitled "Three Weeks." Rosanna's mother dumps her at a farm with her abusive older brother, their dope-growing cousin, and his pregnant girlfriend. Also present is Louie, her cousin's mysterious partner in the pot business, whose interest in Rosanna validates her in the others' eyes. In "Gladstone 1957," Stanley has his dreams of a better life shattered by his ignorant wife and her equally exasperating mother: "He had not cried since he was five, though he had a sudden memory of how it felt to be driven to it by disappointment." The collection's best story is the exquisitely crafted "Frank and Agnes," which follows a dysfunctional family whose members freely display their shortcomings. In the course of a day, her grandchildren, daughter, son-in-law, and her husband, Frank, all humiliate Agnes. In this story, as in the rest, Creelman skilfully paints her characters into a corner, leaving them stranded and separate. --Moe Berg

Review

`Walking in Paradise is Libby Creelman's first book. The collection's fourteen stories, each between ten and fifteen pages in length, are carefully polished and almost uniformly effective. Creelman's style is spare and direct. The sentences are short and crisp, and an emphasis is placed on clear concrete imagery. The stories often unfold through dialogue and Creelman's ear is unerring as each of the characters is granted a distinctive voice.'

(David Creelman The Fiddlehead)

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Libby Creelman's Walking in Paradise is a wonderful collection of short stories that speak to the intricacies of family relationships and resonate with the viewpoint from the children as they watch their dysfunctional parents in a variety of settings. She choses her words sparingly but never fails to give the reader a sense of how the narrator is feeling as he or she experiences a sibling rivalry or a an abusive parent. While Ms. Creelman currently lives in New Foundland, she grew up outside Boston and summered in Maine and many of her stories show glimpses of her Maine background and her love for nature. Her insights into human fallibilites and the fragility of relationships is exemplar. The stories provoke a variety of feelings that everyone will have something in common with. A great read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Libby Creelman sees through the eyes of young people Feb. 25 2001
By Carol C. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Libby Creelman's Walking in Paradise is a wonderful collection of short stories that speak to the intricacies of family relationships and resonate with the viewpoint from the children as they watch their dysfunctional parents in a variety of settings. She choses her words sparingly but never fails to give the reader a sense of how the narrator is feeling as he or she experiences a sibling rivalry or a an abusive parent. While Ms. Creelman currently lives in New Foundland, she grew up outside Boston and summered in Maine and many of her stories show glimpses of her Maine background and her love for nature. Her insights into human fallibilites and the fragility of relationships is exemplar. The stories provoke a variety of feelings that everyone will have something in common with. A great read.
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