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News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories

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3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  1,349 Ratings  ·  281 Reviews
In News from Heaven, Jennifer Haigh—bestselling author of Faith and The Condition—returns to the territory of her acclaimed novel Baker Towers with a collection of short stories set in and around the fictionalized coal-mining town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania.

Exploring themes of restlessness, regret, redemption and acceptance, Jennifer Haigh depicts men and women of different
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Hardcover, 244 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Harper
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Will Byrnes
Feb 04, 2013 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
The news is not always good.

Jennifer Haigh, clearly mining a favorite seam, manages to hit the motherlode again in her new tales of Bakerton, PA. Her 2005 novel, Baker Towers, painted a three-decade portrait of the small mining town, from 1944 into the 1970s, focusing on the lives of its residents, and most particularly, the five siblings of her fictional Novak family. In returning to Bakerton, Haigh brings back several of the characters from her earlier work, completing some unfinished stories
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Methinks I like Ms. Haigh better as a short-storyist than as a novelist. This is a pitch-perfect collection of interconnected stories about a dying Pennsylvania coal-mining town. In my Forest Service days, I lived for awhile in a dying logging town, and the feel is much the same. Rumors take on the status of myth, the locals never forget a slight or a good deed, and families fall apart in direct proportion to the lack of opportunity and the rarity of hope.
Jill
Jan 27, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Everyone knows a town like Bakerton. It’s that town you might have driven through – on your way from here to there -- where “the neighbors wanted nothing more from life than they already had: steady work, a new Chevy each year, weekends in front o the television drinking beer and watching ball.” It’s that town with a church and a bar on every corner. It’s been immortalized in classics like Our Town and Winesburg, Ohio.

Jennifer Haigh’s genius is to cast her laser spotlight on the seemingly ordin
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Anmiryam
Mar 16, 2013 Anmiryam rated it it was amazing
2013 is my year of rediscovering our local library in an attempt to keep my book buying habit from bankrupting my family. So far it's been working, if imperfectly. I'm buying fewer books and most of the volumes I've read and returned are ones I've enjoyed, but do not regret only possessing on a transitory basis. Jennifer Haigh's new collection of short stories bucks this trend. I will return my library copy, but I will immediately head to the store for one of my own so I can re-read and underlin ...more
Diane
Feb 19, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing
I have one shelf on my many, many bookshelves devoted to my all-time favorite books. Jennifer Haigh's debut novel Mrs. Kimble holds a place of honor there. She is remarkable writer, and her last novel Faith just reaffirmed my belief that she is one of the best fiction writers out there.

She recently published a short story collection, News From Heaven: The Bakerton Stories, set in different eras in the coal mining town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania. Some of the characters were featured in her previou
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Alisa Bowman
Apr 10, 2013 Alisa Bowman rated it it was amazing
Years ago, long before she became a gifted novelist, I worked with Jennifer Haigh. So when I stumbled across Mrs. Kimble, her first novel, in an airport book store years ago, I had to buy and read it. I've been reading everything she writes ever since. News From Heaven is a collection of short stories all about the same place: an imaginary coal mining town called Bakerton. If you read her novel Baker Towers, some of the characters will be familiar. If you didn't read it, this collection still st ...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 21, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
These are blue collared short stories, the lives of working men and woman, all set in the mining town of Bakerton. It is helpful but not necessary to have read Baker Towers, many of the characters are here in these short stories. Stories that span the time frame of the beginning of the mines operations. the dying of the mines and the slow death of a town, which at one time had employed over nine-hundred men. It is the story of those who went away, some successful, others who were not and came ba ...more
Beth Peninger
May 21, 2013 Beth Peninger rated it it was ok
Probably 2.5 stars.
Bummer. I liked Haigh's "Faith" so I was willing to pick up her other titles. This one seemed intriguing but in the end fell flat for me.
It's a series of short stories about people from the town of Bakerton, PA. A lot of the people don't live there anymore but return to the town in a variety of ways - whether that's through memories, visits, phone calls, etc. It spans several years and so we see the town itself change with the passing of time through these people. One partic
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Sandie
I read Baker Towers a few years ago and loved it. Now with NEWS FROM HEAVEN, Jennifer Haigh has once again taken us back to the hard hit, fictional coal mining town of Bakerton, PA. with a vividly rich, yet gentle, collection of linked stories about current and past residents of this decaying, forgotten piece of real estate. Almost as if cataloging her own memories, Haigh possesses the stunning ability to communicate and interpret events and feelings experienced by her well drawn characters with ...more
Cheri
Jun 11, 2013 Cheri rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cheri by: Will Byrnes

The benefit of being introduced to an author like Jennifer Haigh and her multi-generational saga “Baker Towers” years after the first publication is being able to continue the story without much of a pause. And, so I did.

“Baker Towers” introduces you to Bakerton, Pennsylvania from the 1940’s into the 1970s. Returning to Bakerton in “News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories” Haigh introduces us to new characters and new stories connected to Bakerton in some way, shape or form. Life in Bakerton is s
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Mary
Feb 07, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
I used to think I didn't like short stories. I had the same complaints as other readers. "Too short, too abrupt, too weird." Over the last year, I've come to realize that short stories are an acquired taste, and I have a new appreciation for what can be accomplished in a smaller space, the impact of a single line or paragraph as opposed to whole chapters.

Jennifer Haigh works magic within a few pages. News From Heaven is a collection of interlinked stories about characters from the fictional coa
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LindaJ^
May 09, 2017 LindaJ^ rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories was wonderful. Bakerton, a small coal town in western PA, is the link that connects the stories. The characters all have a connection to Bakerton. Many have escaped the town but have someone there that results in a rare or an occasional return. Some cannot imagine a life elsewhere. Some find out family secrets too late. As the mines close, the once middle class town declines. As the book closes, Bakerton is hanging on but whether or not it can survive is unknown. ...more
Carol
Jan 04, 2014 Carol rated it liked it
Shelves: e-audible
***3.5 Stars***
Chris Blake
May 07, 2013 Chris Blake rated it really liked it
Jennifer Haigh's first short story collection, News From Heaven, traces the slow decay of the fictional Pennsylvania coal-mining town of Bakerston, through 10 linked stories. Introduced to readers in her fine 2005 novel, Baker Towers, Bakerston was a typical mining town. In its heyday in the middle of the 20th Century, the Baker Brothers mines employed virtually every able-bodied male in the town and even built the workers’ cookie-cutter homes. The workers made good wages and the town grew into ...more
Marne Wilson
Dec 27, 2012 Marne Wilson rated it really liked it
When I found out that I'd won a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program, I was obviously excited. Then when I figured out it was the second book this author has written about Bakerton, Pennsylvania, I was afraid I'd be totally lost, since I've never read the first one. It turned out there was no cause for alarm, as the short stories in this book stand completely on their own. (I still do want to read the first book, Baker Towers, but only because I like the author's writing ...more
Virginia Campbell
Mar 10, 2013 Virginia Campbell rated it really liked it
Author Jennifer Haigh picks up the threads of her previous work, "Baker Towers", and weaves those threads into a tapestry of short stories called "News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories". Both books are set in the small-town coal-mining community of Bakerton, PA. The story line and setting of these books really resonate with me. I too live in a small community where one main employer dominates employment demographics and affects the lives of generation after generation of area residents. In my c ...more
Serena
Jan 30, 2013 Serena rated it really liked it
News From Heaven by Jennifer Haigh is a collection of interconnected short stories about Bakerton, Pa., and while the characters in these stories all have roots in that former coal-mining town, the town itself is a character — matter of fact, it is the character — that holds these stories together. Haigh has created a heartbreaking and hopeful story about the death and rebirth of a town and its people. As the founding members, the Bakers, brought glory and industry to the town that ensured its p ...more
Tonya
Nov 19, 2012 Tonya rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
Usually I don't go for short stories, but it was Jennifer Haigh, so I said yes, I want that one. She didn't disappoint. Each is a little snippet, with pieces coming together here and there - Different periods of time but all have ONE thing in common. Bakerton - Now this is my first book by Haigh, but I have heard and read so many good things about her so I thought this would be a good place to start.

Do you think I should have read The Baker Towers first? Sometimes I wonder, I just felt a piece m
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Kelly Hager
Jan 30, 2013 Kelly Hager rated it it was amazing
I don't generally read short story collections, but I loved Faith (her last novel) that I was willing to give this a chance---and I am so glad I did.

While this could technically be considered a sequel to Baker Towers, you don't need to have read that to enjoy this. (Although as a warning, I hadn't read that book and after reading this, I bought it because I want to spend more time with these people in this world.)

Which is interesting, really, because these are mostly not happy stories. Bakerton
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Karen Brown
May 02, 2013 Karen Brown rated it really liked it
I had enjoyed Haigh's previous novel, "Faith", so I thought I'd pick up her collection of short stories. BOTNS has declared this the "year of short stories" and I've been reading along with some of their recommendations. This collection felt more like a novel, similar to Egan's "A Visit From the Goon Squad." Separate stories but overlapping characters and a common setting, Bakerton, Pennsylvania. I have not read her 2005 novel, "Baker Towers" which is set in the same small coal town in Pennsylva ...more
Amy
Feb 05, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
So good that as soon as I finished the book, I wanted to read these again from the beginning. All the stories connect to a small town in western Pennsylvania. The town used to be about farming, then coal mining, and now its best economic prospect is having a prison built there.

The stories cover different time periods. They cover the people who tried to leave and the people who were content (or not) to stay. My favorite story is the first one, about a small-town girl who goes to New York in the
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Carla
Jul 12, 2013 Carla rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Haigh writes with exquisite simple prose of the life and times of everyday people in the fictitious town of Bakerston, a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. Interwoven short stories resonate with such depth of reality, and feeling that I'm blown away. This book, is a keeper. I'm anxious now to read all of her books. If any of the other books are as good as this, she will be a favourite of mine (although I think she is already!).
Elizabeth☮
Apr 19, 2013 Elizabeth☮ rated it really liked it
Shelves: recent-reads
This is a collection of interrelated stories. The setting is Bakerton, Pennsylvania. The residents are primarily coal miners, but not all. We get a good feel for the make up of the citizens based on stories that take place in past and present. The stories are developed fully so you really get the total arc of a character.
Jill
Apr 23, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
There is something about gritty, industrial America that appeals to me, particularly in fiction that looks at it when it began to change. While this is a collection of short stories, it is more like sifting through a box of pictures, seeing the snap shot of a moment that changed nothing, or maybe it changed everything.
Lauren
Oct 06, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
I love Jennifer Haigh's writing: it's beautiful, introspective, and moving. She writes the sort of books that make me pause between chapters, going over what I've read. Her collection of short stories, which takes readers back to the town in "Baker Towers", is an amazing, instantly addictive read that I both did and didn't want to finish, the perfect book!
Jenny
May 04, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
Jennifer Haigh has a way of weaving together a story that suggests intricacy and community; many of her stories felt like they should continue beyond their end - each could be the first chapter of its own novel instead of a series of stories set in the same town.
Rachel León
When I picked up this story collection I was unaware it is the follow-up to Haigh's second novel. I'm refraining from rating the book since I read this book out of the context of the other. But Haigh is a strong writer and I enjoy the way she writes.
Sarah Beth
Mar 30, 2013 Sarah Beth rated it liked it
Shelves: age-29
this book was easy and pleasant to read. 3 stars for that.
But two stars off because I hate short story collections (or really linked short stories in this case) that are just a buffet of issues. This is the abortion story! The gay story! The addiction story! etc.
I also felt that the linkage was really confusing. like two sets of spinster sisters in the same family, both with a sister with a v-name (viola, virgie) who are NOT THE SAME SET OF SISTERS, but like, they really could be. A lot of conf
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RoseMary Achey
Feb 20, 2013 RoseMary Achey rated it really liked it
This novel is a collection of related short stories which all have the unifying theme of Bakerton, Pennsylvania-a small coal mining community. Haigh is a masterfully storyteller and she nails the human condition. Each story paints a picture of the community’s demise from a once robust coal producing village to the present day where the town leaders hope to recruit a state prison in an effort to provide much needed jobs.
What struck me about Haigh’s writing is her unique character development. In
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Elise
Mar 29, 2013 Elise rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Haigh carries over the stories from Baker Towers to these linked short stories. I found I cared so much about these people and didn't want their stories to end. There was not a word out of place; she is truly a master. The only disconcerting thing was that the stories all revolved around the town and not a specific person, although siblings or parents would show up in other stories. They also went back and forth in time. Once I let it go and just enjoyed the stories without trying to ...more
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Jennifer Haigh is an American novelist and short story writer. Her new novel, HEAT AND LIGHT (Ecco, 2016), looks at a Pennsylvania town divided by the controversy over fracking. Her last novel, FAITH, about a beloved Boston priest accused of a molesting a child in his parish, explores the consequences of this accusation for an entire community.

Haigh's critically acclaimed debut novel MRS. KIMBLE
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“More than anything in life, she wishes she'd let him. That she'd smiled for the camera. That she'd said yes. Life was gone before you knew it;how foolish she'd been to refuse any of it.” 1 likes
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