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Likely Stories - Heather: A Novel by John Talisker

A breathtaking novel; an unforgettable story.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

According to the jacket, “John Talisker is a Canadian and a proud American. He has English roots, some Scottish peat in his blood, and even a twist of the Irish. He has a lot of good stories in him. He lives an eclectic lifestyle immersed in isolation, beautiful views, dark skies, and a deep passion for writing the best novels he can.” I can attest to the beauty of his prose in, Heather, hist latest novel.

“Eleven-year-old Heather is arrestingly beautiful. She is also unusually perceptive. Her mother is dark Vermillion. Her aunt coral blue. Her uncle yellow and black like the dead cat in the ditch after the rain. She speaks aloud to her dead father, the moon, the sun, and the stars. And the river.”

The tale begins. “Heather leaned out the window. The moon floated behind and above her; she couldn’t see it, but its light was pure and white. It reflected off the silvered surface of the river, hurting her eyes: crazy, crazy, dancing diamonds in the night.  She leaned further out and found the moon suspended full in the sky, crystalline and pure, held up by some magical force. She had no idea what kept it up there waxing and waning, sometimes big, sometimes smaller, but she knew that when or if it let go it would strike the black horizon then shatter into a thousand pieces. In her mind, in her heart, she could feel herself following the moon downward—falling, falling—the embracing brightness enveloping the little girl she knew she was: black glass shattering against black glass” (9).

The tale continues. “Earlier that day, her first day with Auntie, Heather had run across fields of green and stippled brown that, now silvered, merged with the moonlight.

Leaving the field, she had entered a grove of scented cedars, their dew-covered branches overhanging the tangled honeysuckle with its red fruit. The path led to the river—it was not a lake, but a river, she had been corrected; and, oh, and yes, it was a dangerous shore, and not a place for little girls. The river nearly alive—she could sense its presence and dark awareness—irresistibly flowed into the great sea a thousand miles away. Dangerous but beautiful, she could see” (10).

These opening words portend a story of sorrow and love and loneliness. John Talisker has written a magnificent novel in Heather. A n unforgettable story. 5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.