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THE OTHER SIDE OF AIR by Jeanne Braselton Kirkus Star

THE OTHER SIDE OF AIR

By Jeanne Braselton

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 2006
ISBN: 0-345-44310-1
Publisher: Ballantine

A quirky, charismatic, often lyrical second novel (A False Sense of Well Being, 2001), posthumously published; novelist Kaye Gibbons completed the book after her friend’s death, in 2003.

Katy Doyal narrates this tale from the afterlife, from the other side of air, where she is now “hovering about in a state of something like perpetual titillation,” waiting for her husband Ephraim to die and join her. But until then, she has arranged for his upkeep and living, in the form of brassy, intuitive Rose Callahan. That Rose moves into the Doyal’s substantial house without question or complaint, despite having never met Ephraim, is handled with a little bit of humor and a lot of make-believe. Bits of magic envelop the study of Katy and Ephraim’s long relationship, which we learn about through Katy’s words and the long letters of advice Katy’s mother wrote (now being read by Rose so she can better learn Ephraim’s ways). The two met as eight-year-olds (Ephraim digging in the mud, Katy imparting some bossy girlish wisdom) and remained hopelessly romantic through their poverty and then the sudden financial windfall that graced their later years. Their impenetrable union helps to explain the churlishness of their only child, Wyatt. An angry fellow, always feeling like the butt of a private joke, Wyatt has come to Georgia with wife Ann, who will leave him unless he can become a decent person. A tall order, but if he just listens to his mother’s whispered advice, clearer now to him than when she was alive, he may finally grow up and make amends with his father. Braselton’s triumph is in taking a few days and filling them with authentic conversations about anger and love, and creating not something stiffly earnest or maudlin, but a novel that is bright and true.

A small gem, written in a lilting southern conversational voice, with an afterword by Gibbons.