And Then the Gray Heaven

This moving novella about a tragic death is a beautifully realistic portrayal of queer love, loss and memory.

Jules's partner B died after falling off a ladder, and B's family barred Jules from saying good-bye. Gutted, Jules bonds with their dishwasher, skims the pool, eats exactly 20 gas station sandwiches, cry-naps and crawls under the porch. Then Theo Adan arrives--the neighbor's sister's kid, who is Jules's age but a complete stranger. "I've got you," they tell Jules, who is "stupid grateful" for them--especially after receiving two-thirds of B's ashes. With Theo, Jules embarks on a road trip to visit places where B worked on museum dioramas--Chicago, New York, Gainesville, Fla.--on the way to an admirably unconventional burial.

RE Katz's debut is a passionate, turbulent story about healing. They acutely impart the pain of loss (Jules presses cremains to their body "like an ice pack") and the necessity of support ("I realize for the millionth time that I also have a body"). Through Jules's confiding voice, Katz touches on life in a foster system, the exhausting effort of fitting, the uplifting relief of people who understand eccentricity, and the wondrous and grotesque aspects of artmaking. Katz's characters are bewitching: B, a "supernova of a person oozing idea noise"; the iconic Mr. Nguyen, who allegedly helped fake the moon landing; Fran, who once lived "in exile" with B and created a day disco with them and Mr. Nguyen. And Then the Gray Heaven is a vital ode to the haven of queer love and chosen family. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

Powered by: Xtenit