THE HARD BLUE SKY by Shirley Ann Grau


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New Orleans–based Grau, who won a Pulitzer for The Keepers of the House (1965), first published this tale of wild life on the bayou in 1958, and Kirkus found the same “special qualities” it had discerned in her first book, The Black Prince (1955). Grau’s primitive island dwellers, “alien and apart and tempered by the whims of the sea and the sky,” feud, disappear, betray, and seduce one another, and die and go mad like the rest of us. But Kirkus demurred at the book’s length, suggesting that Grau’s talent was “more comfortable within the narrower margins of the short story.” Here, the “more ambitious” novel suffers from “an absence of plot,” and the subtle perceptions are “dissipated” over time. Admiring the “somnolent fascination” of Grau’s island world, Kirkus also marveled at how it shaped “the vitality and violence” of the lives in the novel, at once “very realistic,” but with “an unquestionable lyricism.”

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8071-2690-X
Page count: 466pp
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2001