Vanishing Acts

Wild Things

Shark Girls

Dream Lives of Butterflies

Climbing the God Tree

Sex, Salvation and the Automobile

CLIMBING THE GOD TREE
1998
Winner of the Willa Cather Fiction Prize

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The repercussions of a murder, a fatal accident and a stillbirth sound through the 24 interlocking stories of this haunted novel. Rendering an intimate portrait of small-town Rock Harbor, Maine, and a handful of its inhabitants, Colbert (Sex, Salvation, and the Automobile) approaches the three central tragedies--each of which takes place before the novel's opening--by examining the lives of the perpetrators and the bereaved. Eli Hyde has lost her baby due to complications caused by the automobile accident that killed her teenage sister Melissa some years earlier. Made miserable by her adulterous husband, Dallas, Eli begins teaching art therapy at a maximum security prison, where she meets lifer Morton Salvitore, incarcerated for the seemingly motiveless and extremely violent murder of Jenna Pierce. His personality strangely seduces Eli, even as Morton begins an ominous courtship. The novel spirals outward from Morton, Dallas and Eli to include Eli's older sister Henri--indirectly responsible for and still tortured by Melissa's death--and her friend, the awkward, lonely Stella Dubois. Colbert's characters practice a kind of gritty, close-mouthed survivalism that struggles to coexist with their eagerness to feel "something you might even call hope." While her narrative choices can be clumsy (a number of the protagonists have improbably moved from Hawaii to coastal Maine), Colbert has a knack for creating vivid characters and handles well the novel's recurring themes of loss and retribution.
spacer- Publisher's Weekly

ISBN 1884235255 (1-884235-25-5)



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Available from the following:
Helicon Nine Editions
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Praise for Climbing the God Tree:

"A debut novel set in a haunted Maine town. Eerie, understated, and deft. Colbert uses atmosphere the way David Lean uses scenery."
spacer-Kirkus Reviews

"The scope of Jaimee Wriston Colbert's storytelling is impressive, with no fewer than 16 central characters delineated in intricately overlapping narratives... The stories stand on their own as sensitive and unsentimental evocations of unrelieved loss."
spacer-The New York Times Book Review

"Jaimee Wriston Colbert looks deeply into the ragged places in our psyches - into the parts of us torn open by loss and by failed love - and reveals our humanity in all its beauty and imperfection. Here is a writer who, in powerfully linked stories, movingly evokes both our craving for  the sacred and our tenacious embrace of the profane."
spacer-Dawn Raffel, Judge, Willa Cather Fiction Prize

"Climbing the God Tree is an intricate cat's cradle of obsession, desire, compassion, and hope. Jaimee Wriston Colbert holds back nothing - in each of these finely interwoven lives, I recognize something of my own. An extraordinary novel."
spacer-A Manette Ansay, author, River Angel

New York Times Book Review

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