If There Are Any Heavens

Persea. Jul. 2022. 168p. ISBN 9780892555574. $24. MEMOIR
Novelist Montemarano (The Senator’s Children) presents a unique personal perspective from the height of the COVID pandemic in the United States, which he equates to a “1950s science fiction movie.” Most of his family has contracted the virus, and he takes precautions to protect his parents from the illness, going so far as to remind them that “hugs could kill.” Unfortunately, both of his parents eventually contract the virus, and his mother in particular becomes critically ill with pneumonia and requires hospitalization. Montemarano’s memoir focuses on the 10 days in early 2021 that his mother spent in the hospital (and he spent in a nearby hotel); it’s a window into his thinking during this gut-wrenching experience, including a snapshot of his internet search history on one particularly challenging day. This account is written in an unusual style that combines aspects of memoir, stream-of-consciousness narration, and poetry; it’s a quick read with a firsthand perspective of only some of the difficulties COVID presented to people across the globe.
VERDICT Montemarano’s unique literary memoir offers an absorbing, visceral experience of the pandemic and should easily find a dedicated audience.
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