Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Used World

The Used World by Haven Kimmel was originally published in 2007. My hardcover copy is 308 pages. Kimmel is a talented writer and that is evident in The Used World. It is a multi-layered story, however, it didn't quite measure up to her previous fiction and nonfiction books. There were portions of the story that became awkward and unclear. For me, personally, I felt that her characters this time were all stereotypes of characters we have seen before, and none of them were all that compelling. I pretty much knew where the story would end from the start. Although The Used World was good, it wasn't great. Only because Kimmel can write, the rating is a 3.

Synopsis from Cover:
....Hazel Hunnicutt's Used World Emporium is a sprawling antique store that is "the station at the end of the line for objects that sometimes appeared tricked into visiting there." Hazel, the proprietor, is in her sixties, and it's a toss-up as to whether she's more attached to her mother or her cats. She's also increasingly attached to her two employees: Claudia Modjeski -- freakishly tall, forty-odd years old -- who might finally be undone by the extreme loneliness that's dogged her all of her life; and Rebekah Shook,
pushing thirty, still living in her fervently religious father's home, and carrying the child of the man who recently broke her heart. The three women struggle -- separately and together, through relationships, religion, and work -- to find their place in this world. And it turns out that they are bound to each other not only by the past but also by the future, as not one but two babies enter their lives, turning their formerly used world brand-new again.

Astonishing for what it reveals about the human capacity for both grace and mischief, The Used World forms a loose trilogy with Kimmel's two previous novels, The Solace of Leaving Early and Something Rising (Light and Swift). This is a book about all of America by way of a single midwestern town called Jonah, and the actual breathing histories going on as Indiana's stark landscape is transformed by dying small-town centers and proliferating big-box stores and SUVs. It's about generations of deception, anguish, and love, and the idiosyncratic ways spirituality plays out in individual lives.
By turns wise and hilarious, tender and fierce, heartrending and inspiring, The Used World charts the many meanings of the place we call home.
"Claudia Modjeski stood before a full length mirror in the bedroom she'd inherited from her mother, pointing the gun in her right hand - a Colt .44 Single Action Army with a nicked finish and a walnut grip - at her reflected image." opening sentence

"Rebekah Shook lay uneasy in the house of her father, Vernon, in an old part of town, the place farmers moved after the banks had foreclosed and the factories were still hiring."pg. 2

"Only Hazel Hunnicutt slept soundly, cats claiming space all around her." pg. 3

In the Used World Emporium itself, nothing lived, nothing moved, but the air was thick with expectancy nonetheless." pg. 3

"It was mid-December in Jonah, Indiana, a place where Fate can be decided by the weather, and a storm was gathering overhead." pg. 3

"It's the countless unseen singing things that announce by the vacuum they leave that some momentous condition is on its way." pg. 12

"But she knew for certain that women free of fathers speak one way and they make a world that tastes of summer every day, and when the men come home after winning the war - or even if they don't come home - the shutters close, the lipstick goes on, and it is winter, again." pg. 17-18

"Someone should have pointed out to Rebekah that it's the summit of foolishness to feel pride for what you lack." pg. 30

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