The paths of an orphaned girl in 1971 and a sixty-something recluse in 2016 entwine in a novel of damaged souls and salvaged hope.
In 1971, orphan Marlise Schade—fourteen, anorectic, and evicted from the psychiatric hospital her trust fund can no longer support—finds herself alone in an ancestral home during a blizzard. Marlise’s struggles to survive there become the focal point for a host of imperiled figures, living and dead, whose stories intersect with hers and with forces roiling the U.S. in the ’70s.
Decades later, on the brink of Trump’s America, sixty-something Tee Handel is shaken by an inexplicable visitation. For years he’s nursed a deep hurt over his breakup with a captivating artist, spending his days and nights in solitude tinkering with antique clocks. What’s become of the artist, and how Tee reacts to his mysterious guest, testifies to the risk and inexorability of change.
These two seemingly unrelated tales entwine to show how the wages of the past are always with us, as are the dangerous and redemptive consequences of secrets confided and withheld.
About the Author
Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of many collections of poetry, most recently Orexia (Persea, 2017), and a collections of essays, The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry. She is the editor of Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson; Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems; and All that Mighty Heart: London Poems. She is a poetry columnist for Los Angeles Review of Books and Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
Lisa Russ Spaar’s debut novel (how is this a debut novel?) is a soulful, sexy, extraordinarily lyrical meditation on things that matter—art, aging, love, desire, the body, and the brief, passionate encounters that bind us to each other and sometimes save our lives. Beginning with a fragile, tender-hearted teenage orphan and spiraling into an ever-growing universe of enchanting outcasts, Paradise Close is part romantic fantasy, part literary dreamscape, and always a luscious and rewarding encounter with language. If this is what happens when poets write novels, they should all write them.
— Eleanor Henderson, author of "The Twelve-Mile Straight" and "Everything I Have Is Yours"
Kaleidoscopic and moving, Lisa Russ Spaar’s debut novel Paradise Close seamlessly spans the decades of her singular characters’ lives and their inextricable connections to one another. At the heart of this work is a convergence of secrets catalogued with longing. Spaar looks closely and intently at such fractured desires, piecing them back together, all while offering a culminating rush of heartbreak to the bloodstream.