THE SKY BELOW
A luminous novel crafted in meticulous detail with shimmering language, D’Erasmo’s third book tells the story of Gabriel Collins’ life, beginning with his father’s abandonment when Gabriel was a child and tracing his ambivalent search for wholeness through adolescence and into adulthood. An obituary writer for a half-assed tourist newspaper in post-9/11 Manhattan, Gabriel is also an artist, creating still lifes from found and stolen objects. Gabriel’s lover, Janos, a wealthy financier, hopes that Gabriel will abandon his marginal life and move in with him, but Gabriel steadfastly refuses, even when a health crisis threatens to undo him. An impulsive trip to Mexico leads him to a hardscrabble commune where he finds a belated clarity. The descriptions of Gabriel’s artwork and his daily struggles comprise a dizzying trip through metaphor and expression, the undisputed centerpiece of which is the dazzling, complicated narration in vivid prose. This is a demanding and immensely satisfying novel, and certainly one of the better New York artist novels in recent memory.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
PRAISE & REVIEWS
Gabriel’s voice is irresistible…a brilliant narrator. Vibrant and precise, his storytelling is memorable not so much for its individual phrases (though plenty are exquisite) as for its overall sense of immersion into a distinctive world….As in the best books…the meaning of these images seems to evolve as they repeat…until new combinations and minute adjustments lay bare the complex emotions within.
–Cover, New York Times Book Review
Stacey D’Erasmo’s third novel, The Sky Below, has its roots in journalism; its protagonist is an obituary writer for a paper in Manhattan. “You’ve seen me,” the book opens. “I’m the guy opposite you on the subway or the bus, I’ve passed you on the street a million times.” Yes . . . but no, not really, for D’Erasmo has something more in mind. Her story is not about dissolution but redemption — a revolutionary concept for a journalist these days.
— David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
…lyrical prose and telling detail create a powerful atmosphere.
— The New Yorker
[A] long, strange trip laced with literary allusions and rendered in prose at once pristine and hallucinatory.
Like James Joyce, Stacey D’Erasmo has created an unforgettable portrait of an artist…Part magical realism and part acid trip, The Sky Below is the stuff that dreams are made of.
In her conceptually brilliant, imaginative, brimming and suspenseful novel, her evocations of place are ravishing; her characters are at once richly human and magical and their confounding predicaments are both commonplace and cosmic. Erotic and mystical, intricately made and deeply felt, “The Sky Below” is a vivid tale of profound dimension and resonance.
— Donna Seaman, Los Angeles Times
A mesmerizing, gritty and exceedingly modern variation on ancient themes….brilliant…limpid, visual prose.
— Karen Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer
D’Erasmo writes a hyperkinetic, highly lyricized prose…mind-blowing…studded throughout are ringingly memorable lines…
— Boston Globe
Her…most imaginative novel to date… D’Erasmo writes beautifully, her sentences urgent, whispery, holding their breath as Gabe does, waiting for magic.
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
Delightful…Gabe’s story is both plausible and fantastic; even when reality is stretched thread-thin, it’s engaging, thanks to Stacey D’Erasmo’s prose, which manages to be both elegant and economical. Like Cornell’s Untitled (Medici Princess) or A Swan Lake for Tamara Toumanova, The Sky Below is an object to be admired.
— New York Observer
A beautifully written compilation of the small, strange specificities that make us each uniquely human.
— San Francisco Chronicle
Fresh and compassionately observed scenes…you can feel D’Erasmo’s maturity and intelligence in this textured and vivid portrait of contemporary life.
— The Advocate
Darkly scintillating … Intricately imagined and economically told, D’Erasmo’s riddling third novel made me want to start over as soon as I reached the last page.
Hard-nosed but lyrical, unsentimental but moving, mythical but modern, The Sky Below is a precisely calibrated balancing act.
— Time Out
The Sky Below is a wonder of a story. It follows the eternally changing nature of truth in vital language. Every word counts and the next page is always full of surprises. It reminded this reader of Voltaire’s CANDIDE in its imaginative verve, its beauty and its awareness of contradictions in human lives.
— Paula Fox
Nothing more satisfying than seeing a writer in peak form tackle a worthy and ambitious subject. In telling the poignant and very beautiful story of one struggling, soul-searching man, D’Erasmo soars. Here are truth and beauty on every page.
— Sigrid Nunez
The Sky Below is a rare and ambitious book, savvy and poetic–a hard-headed tale that takes on mythic sweep, as we watch, step by step, a man turning himself inside out. No one but Stacey D’Erasmo could write so sharply and precisely about what can hardly be said. A novel that’s dazzling in its effects and riveting to read.
— Joan Silber
The Sky Below is a wonderfully vivid and engaging novel, full of complex life exquisitely rendered in D’Erasmo’s accomplished prose. I liked everything about it: its characters and their worlds, its constant heart and gentle wisdom.
— Peter Cameron
Her neologisms and elegant similes are as distinctive and emotionally resonant as those of Virginia Woolf and Marilynne Robinson…The Sky Below [is] full of brilliant, uncanny elements that intersect in ways both puzzling and true.
— Andrea Walker, Bookforum