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Through the Pale Door

3.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  43 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Sarah West takes a temporary job at her father's South Carolina steel mill the summer before college, hoping for relief from the chaos of her psychotic and often institutionalized mother. But from the first day of June to the waning days of August, relief is the last thing Sarah finds. Soon after moving to her father's house—ore like an industrial museum than a home—tragic ...more
Hardcover, 203 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Hub City Writers Project
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Dec 26, 2009 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: myfavoritebooks
Through the Pale Door by Brian Ray started off intriguing and had me hooked early on. I found that as I continued reading, I felt something missing from the story, but I wasn't sure what it was. It occurred to me about three-quarters of the way through that what the story lacked was emotion. Even though I liked the main characters of Sarah, Edgewood, and Sarah's mother, Monday, I had a difficult time establishing any sort of emotional connection with any of them with the exception of Monday. Ray ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it
The narrator of Brian Ray's quirky first novel is Sarah West, who has gone to Columbia, South Carolina, to spend the summer working for her father in order to earn a little money for art school and to take a break from her schizophrenic artist mother.

The crazy creative mother is nothing new in fiction, but there is still plenty in this novel to keep it fresh. The language, for one thing. This book should be read slowly, lest the reader miss out on the arresting images and turns of phrase strewn
Feb 10, 2010 Tess rated it really liked it
Not sure if I would have picked this off the shelf myself, but I'm very glad it was one of the assigned books in my Southern Novelists class. Suspension of disbelief was difficult for me at first, since I am familiar with both of the main settings (Marietta and Columbia), but Ray's unique way of phrasing common phenomena (like a sunrise) kept me reading. I have a habit of underlining sentences or phrases that I find interesting or that make me see something a different way. There are at least 3 ...more
Sara Sheehy
Jul 16, 2010 Sara Sheehy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I picked up Through the Pale Door in the "new" section at my local library. The fact that a man younger than myself wrote it - and won awards - was compelling enough for me to give it a try.

Through the Pale Door is a story of a young woman who is an artist and (temporarily) a worker at her father's steel mill. The book intertwines the main characters love affair with another artist and life with a mentally ill mother. I found it to be well-written with a compelling storyline. The "voice" through
Sep 14, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
I passed this book up at Fiction Addiction, but the notice about a meet&greet signing with the young author kept this novel fresh in my head as a 'to-read'. I found it at the library, and definitely plan on getting a signed copy! I was floored by the sadness that the protagonist matures through; as far as coming of age stories are concerned, this one certainly digs its heels deep in tragedy and won't let up. I only wish that there had been more of Columbia in this novel... but that's my own ...more
Apr 26, 2011 Marka rated it liked it
This was good, but I feel like a LOT more could have been fleshed out character-wise. Everything just kinda fell apart at the end, and it felt rushed :(
Apr 30, 2010 Marie rated it did not like it
This book won the SC First Novel Award... and I just can't figure out how. It stunk.
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Brian Ray grew up in Georgia and spent his college years in Columbia, where he toured old prisons by moonlight and learned to deal with paranoid schizophrenic relatives. He also drank a lot of coffee.

He earned his MFA from the University of South Carolina in '07 and stayed there a year to teach creative writing. Now he's working on his next novel while earning a PhD at UNC-Greensboro.

More about Brian Ray...

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