The problem with being a writer who writes consistently beautiful prose over many years is that fashions in fiction come and go—or, more to the point, fashions in publishing, which, as an enterprise, has less and less interest in beautiful prose; the publishers’ interest tends more toward pleasing whatever demographic the marketing department has identified as the sweet spot. Novels about the upended lives of families in historic mountain towns, presented as a microcosm of the lives we all lead and would know we lead them if only we had the capacity for deep attention—such novels, without glitz, stubbornly devoted to uncomfortable truths, are harder to present to audiences than murder mysteries, a new installment of a sword-and-apocalypse fantasy series, or the latest quest of an swashbuckling symbology professor.
This may be why the latest novel by Colorado’s own Joanne Greenberg, famous for I Never Promised You a Rose Garden but the author of many other gorgeous books—including In This Sign, Simple Gifts, and Where the Road Goes—arrives without hoopla, without (so far) attention from the literary press, and without (I presume) a gold-plated marketing budget.
It will be a shame if all of this keeps readers from finding it in time for holiday giving, although it’s readily available on Indiebound (support an Indie store near you!) … and of course on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I myself, having received a copy from a friend, figured I’d put it off until that sweet caesura between Christmas and New Year’s, but out of curiosity I read the first chapter and then could not put it down. There’s something refreshing in reading a book with multiple narrators, two of them dead, which is also a masterly example of realism. A book where the central crime is the product of unrecognized genius and the climax brought about not by gunfire, zombie assaults, or beefy long-haired heroes with unpronounceable names, but by the impact of childhood shaming and the resultant desire for revenge.
Bottom line: All I’ve Done for You is a lovely, jarring, bittersweet, illuminating book—a fine addition to the Joanne Greenberg canon. Here’s hoping it finds the wide audience it deserves.