The Grace That Keeps This World
Tom Bailey
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Buy *The Grace That Keeps This World* online

The Grace That Keeps This World

Tom Bailey
Shaye Areheart Books
288 pages
October 2005
rated 3 of 5 possible stars
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Following the success of his 2003 short story collection Crow Man, Tom Bailey has written a deeply moving novel in The Grace That Keeps This World. Its a story about fathers and sons, financial strains, and the strife of family beliefs grating against personal beliefs told through many points-of-view. The story opens up with Susan Hazen recollecting a tragic day, then bounces back around between her and husband Gary Hazen (a strongly principled hunter and Vietnam veteran), Officer Roy, the old game warden Brad Pfeiffer, their sons, Kevin and Gary David, Father Anthony, and several others. From the mouth of Gary Hazen:

Its irresponsible, Kevin, I say, raising my voice to him. Ive brought up both my boys like Ive managed to train every dog Ive ever owned with a biscuit in one hand and a switch in the other. and Im burning now to smack this son of mine with the lesson of what he knows is right. If youd have been here when you said you would, wed all ready be done with this job. Wed be on our way home. I shouldnt have to remind you that its going to snow soon. Your brother and I have been out here since dawn. Im not a betting man, but if I were Id be willing to wager ten to your one youve been with Jeanie all day. What do you have to say for yourself?

Kevin stops as if my voice has yanked him up short, as if hes hit the end of the length of leash that connects us. He whirls to face me at the question. Obviously, he does have something to say, beyond the expected excuse of school for where hes been and the reason that he had to study for being late that hes offered to me, and his slipping on the slicks of those silly loafers and falling on his butt has gotten him worked up enough to say it.
This leads to one of several altercations between Kevin (the college-ambitious son) and his father, Gary, the week prior to the opening of hunting season. Its the day which Susan recollects at the opening that turns out to be an unforeseen tragedy.

Overall, The Grace That Keeps This World is a good story with crisp writing and characters that ring true, but the multiple point-of-view shifts just dont work for me as a literary device.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Bobby Blades, 2005

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