Almost Heaven (Hardcover, 1998)
Author: Marianne Wiggins
Hardcover: 213 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1st ed edition (September 1, 1998)
Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces
It seems no accident that the narrator of Marianne Wiggins's sixth novel, Almost Heaven, is named Holden. Like his literary predecessor in J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, this edgy twentysomething war correspondent is also a protector of lost innocence, or at least a seeker of grace in a world gone brutal. Done in and emotionally damaged by a stint in Bosnia, Holden escapes back to the U.S. at a time when a rage of bad weather--tornadoes, heat waves, hurricanes--grips the nation and portends his immersion in a relationship of cyclonic intensity.
Once stateside, he entwines his fate with that of someone who is suffering from traumatic amnesia in response to the sudden loss of her entire family. For Melanie, Holden quickly becomes a life raft in a sea of random and unfathomable acts, and the two take off across the country in an attempt to escape the gathering storms, both real and metaphorical, that surround them. As Holden puts it: "One way or another someday, if not already, all of us will have left some one some where some dream some loneliness some thing."
Almost Heaven is an eclectic work, weaving together streams of desire, lost dreams, and sharp-edged commentary on America in its millennial madness into a haunting story of two people who succumb to erotic frenzy, both losing and finding themselves in each other. Wiggins, the prize-winning author of John Dollar, has produced a raw, kinetic book that explores the question of what it is like to run so hard from memory that it's as though your life never happened, as though you had just been born.