IF NOT ON EARTH, THEN IN HEAVEN by Joel Redon

IF NOT ON EARTH, THEN IN HEAVEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A strange bird of a second novel by Redon (Bloodstream, 1989), based on the author's own family history and concerning the plight of its consumptive, lovelorn female members. In l905, Neoma Matthews leaves her father's farm in eastern Oregon for the bright lights of Portland. It's the year of the Portland World's Fair, and Neoma wants to be independent and modern (``I believe in restaurants and motorcars''). She also wants to break the chain of suffering that afflicted the women in her family--especially her grandmother, abandoned by her husband during the Civil War. Alone in her room in the Martha Washington Hotel for Women, Neoma reads their correspondence, as well as the novels of Edith Wharton. At the library she meets handsome, young, sexually schizophrenic Adam McCarthy, who believes she can save him from his randiness. They become engaged between ice- cream cones at the fairgrounds, and Neoma introduces Adam to her brash friend Birdie--which proves not such a good idea, since Birdie has little trouble seducing Adam. Meanwhile, Neoma begins coughing up blood; and when she learns that Adam's gotten Birdie pregnant, she retires to waste away at her grandfather's house. A curious study of Victorian sexuality, sensitively handled, but by and large far too wan for the more robust tastes of the late 20th century.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-05874-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991