Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Place Like Home

The Four Corners of the Sky
by Michael Malone

My twin sister E. and I have had a couple of conversations about Michael Malone's work. He has written a number of novels, and of the three I have read, Handling Sin is by far the best - way out in front of the others. E. says that the greatness of Handling Sin has ruined Malone's other books for her - they are inevitably a disappointment, because they do not measure up to the masterpiece. To a certain extent, I agree with her. On the other hand, if I can put my love and loyalty for Handling Sin aside, there is still much to be enjoyed about Malone's other books, including The Four Corners of the Sky. Malone has a knack for creating likable characters who are believable even when they get into absurd and unbelievable situations.

The Four Corners of the Sky is loosely (very loosely) based on The Wizard of Oz. It involves a journey in which a vulnerable character discovers strengths that she did not know she had, and also learns the value of relationships. Without being preachy, Malone also causes us to examine pertinent questions such as "What makes a family?" and "What constitutes forgiveness?" Malone does all this in the context of a crime caper/quest/love story hat stretches the imagination but also makes us laugh and occasionally choke up. The blatant references to The Wizard of Oz (much of the story is set in "Emerald," NC) and the extended "aviation as life" metaphor both get a little old sometimes, but that is really a minor quibble with what essentially is an engaging, well told story.

No, it's not Handling Sin. But it is the type of book that it is fun to immerse yourself in for a week or so. Malone has a way of drawing us in and making us care what happens to the people whom he has created. He does it with a healthy dose of humor, which is always good. Definitely worth reading. If you are heading to the beach this summer, save this and read it under an umbrella in the sand, looking up at the waves now and then. It is better than most "beach books," but will relax you and make you smile.

Reverent Reader


At 4/16/10, 6:21 PM , Blogger Saying Grace said...

I'm a big fan of Michael Malone, so thanks for this recommendation!


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