Karen Karbo
March 23, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Elizabeth Crane’s linked collection of stories chronicles Charlotte Anne Byers, who begins life as a precocious ”opera star” (at 8 she’s cast as Urchin No. 2 in La Bohème), yet winds up wondering why her life didn’t quite pan out. All This Heavenly Glory is dizzy-making in its long, galloping sentences (replete with parenthetical phrases so wickedly astute, you need to reread them several times, which turns you around so that you need to read the entire sentence again) and tragic, hilarious, spot-on observations about, say, recovering from being dumped by someone you dated exactly once. Crane has written that excruciatingly great book that begs you to inhale it in one sitting while at the same time trying to savor every knockout sentence.

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