The Heaven of Mercury
Finus Bates has loved chatty, elegant Birdie Wells ever since he saw her cartwheel naked through the woods near the backwater town of Mercury, Mississippi, in 1917. Having “caught hold of some loose line in her that would attach itself to stray wildness” and never let go, he’s loved her for some eighty years: through their marriages to other people, through the mysterious early death of Birdie’s womanizing husband, Earl, and through all the poisonous accusations against Birdie by Earl’s no-good relatives. All during Mercury’s evolution from a sleepy backwater to a small city, Finus (reporter, radio host, and obit writer) has aimed to have the last word on its inhabitants, from obsequious undertaker Parnell Grimes to Euple Scarbrough, local encyclopedia of useless knowledge, and Vish, a real oldtime medicine woman. But ever loyal to Birdie, Finus won’t rush to unravel the mystery of her husband’s untimely passing—not until Birdie herself has entered Mercury’s heaven.A gorgeous portrayal of lifelong friendship, restless passion, marital discord accommodation, aging and remembrance, death and afterlife, The Heaven of Mercury is inscribed in prose so eerily fine it is one of life’s true pleasures.