four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
22-May-June-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-TheThinPlaceIn the small New England town of Varennes, near the Canadian border, three schoolgirls walking on the beach find their neighbor lying flat on the ground. Since he appears to be dead, two of the girls run for help while one, Mees Kipp, brings him back to life. Mees’s unearthly gift resonates throughout the churchgoing community, but not in any expected way, as revealed through various characters, including a man searching for his fifth wife, a 19th-century schoolmarm with the secrets of a never-forgotten tragedy, and a dog with otherworldly connections.
Little, Brown. 275 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0316735043

Chicago Sun-Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"It appears that there is not a word out of the place in the entire novel, never a lyrical misstep or a poor characterization. … The Thin Place is a bright, shimmering book, and the variety of voices come together like a globe cut from glass in the sun, separating the light into tiny rainbows and then reconstructing them into pure white light." Jessa Crispin

San Francisco Chronicle 4.5 of 5 Stars
"It is difficult not to be exhilarated by Davis’s soaring ambitions, her hallucinatory use of language, her fearlessness. … Her prose … is so exquisite, that it appears to emanate from a supernatural source." Irina Reyn

Christian Science Monitor 4 of 5 Stars
"The Thin Place … left me scraping the plate and looking around for stray crumbs. … What makes Davis’s approach different is that Mees’s gift is subject to neither shock nor awe: The townspeople never go after her with pitchforks, nor do they try to get her a TV show where she can heal people for three easy payments of $29.95." Yvonne Zipp

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"She has done something great here, something heathen, anarchic, democratic. She has given everyone and every thing a voice: animals, plants, children, coma patients, even the earth itself." Lucy Ellmann

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Cosmic without being florid, funny without being flip, terrifying without being trite … Davis gives us a world animated by spirit. … The wonder of the book is the way she weaves pure beauty and prickly humor into her doomsaying." Claire Dederer

Critical Summary

The thin place is a Celtic term used to describe the diaphanous realm where the spiritual and physical worlds combine. In her lyrically brilliant sixth novel (after Versailles, 2002), Kathryn Davis imagines a town rooted in the thin place. Every living thing is intricately connected here: humans, animals, and vegetables all have their say. Critics admit the novel is difficult to summarize, but all commend the powerful poetry in Davis’s loopy, mystical examination of time, morality, and everyday joys. What it lacks in page-turning plot—one exists, but it is secondary—is trumped by the revelatory narrative voices.