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Heaven Is Small by Emily Schultz
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Heaven Is Small

by Emily Schultz

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Gordon Small dies at the outset of this novel. Then he gets a job as a Proofreader at Heaven Books, a gigantic publishing house for romance novels. It is solid work, though a bit tedious. And it takes him a few months before he begins to tweak that there might be something odd about his situation. For example, he hasn’t eaten any food in weeks. He can now run on a treadmill for hours without breaking a sweat. He finds it near impossible to smoke a cigarette given that he doesn’t seem to breath in or exhale. And then he spots his ex-wife commiserating with his former work colleague, which was rather odd since he didn’t think they knew each other. But at some point it clicks for him and he realizes that he is actually dead.

Spending eternity in the production of romance novels doesn’t really sound like the kind of heaven most people would like to partake of. And that is true for Gordon as well. So he sets about frustrating the plans of the corporation and working to make “contact” with the outside world and his former ex-wife, whom he still loves without reserve. Needless to say, hijinks ensue.

Emily Schultz has a vibrant imagination and gladly takes up the challenge of a tremendous literary conceit. That she doesn’t entirely succeed here is less important than the promise that her talent will produce better and funnier, yet still conceptually interesting, novels in the future. There are some glitches. For example, at times she writes as though she has never met a simile that she didn’t “like”. But that comes and goes, which is probably an indication that this is an early and not entirely consistent novel. She also wavers between irony and sarcasm as though she isn’t entirely certain what the difference is. But again, that’s a small complaint. I shall look forward to her future efforts, ideally with more professional typesetting than House of Anansi Press has provided for this novel. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Oct 4, 2013 |
Gordon Small is dead, a fact which escapes him as he applies for a job at Heaven Books, a sort of purgatory where his colleagues work away, oblivious to the fact that they are no longer alive. Slowly, Gordon becomes aware of his state and seeks to bring his colleagues to the same state of awareness as they continue to drone away at their jobs in an office environment straight out of Dilbert. The premise is intriguing and that is what initially captured my attention, but it went on too long to keep it. ( )
  SweetKitchen | Apr 3, 2010 |
Gordon Small is dead. We think. He's not sure, as he's too busy prepping for a mysterious job interview with the Heaven Book Company. Gordon is quickly hired to proofread cheap and plentiful romance novels; terrible books written in prose so purple the "ardour of the reading material left a taste in his mouth like old coffee." The specifics of his position are vague, but then, so is the entire enterprise; no one seems to actually go home at night (resulting in a very creepy scene in a parking garage), Gordon can't remember the last time he went to the washroom, and pizza deliverymen are always nearby yet cannot seem to find the entranceway into the building.

Schultz (whose novel Joyland is a real treat, seek it out) definitely enjoys traipsing about her central conceit, portraying the afterlife as not much different than life on this plane, full of office drones, unrequited sexual urges, and monotony. It wouldn't be fair to reveal every surprise the Canadian author lays for Gordon, but his dismay at his new digs quickly leads to a smartly realized scheme whereby his otherwise clueless fellow employees of Heaven "would realize that they deserved lives beyond what occurred at their desks."

Read the rest of the review here. ( )
1 vote ShelfMonkey | Feb 7, 2010 |
Showing 3 of 3
Most of the novel takes place inside Heaven Books, where Gordon is posthumously hired as a proofreader. Schultz captures the staid, repetitious life of the office perfectly; she has a talent for honing in on the shoulder punches, the power bars, and the monogrammed mugs that make us cringe alongside Gordon. It’s here, in the descriptions of Heaven’s daily routine, that the novel is at its most scathingly funny. When Gordon meets Lillian Payne from HR, for example, he notes, “her face bore the pearl transparency of an embryonic sac.”

 
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"If this is Heaven ah'm bailin out!"
— "Mutiny in Heaven," The Birthday Party
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Moments after his death, an event he had failed to notice, Gordon Small sought new employment.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"When Gordon realizes that he may be trapped in afterlife limbo, he embarks on a mission to make contact with his one true love, posthumously revive his writing career, and bring the formidable machinery of Heaven Inc. to a crashing halt."--Publisher's description.… (more)

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