IF MY BOOK: Randal Eldon Greene

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Randal Eldon Greene writes about Descriptions of Heaven, his debut novel just published by Harvard Square Editions.

If Descriptions of Heaven were a zoo animal, it would be a sloth with green-tinted fur. It would move slowly, climbing up the tree, branch to branch. Every small and deliberate movement of its muscles would intrigue. It would climb to the heights of the trees, look up, and still long for the sky.

If Descriptions of Heaven were a lie, it would be one whispered softly and sweetly. You wouldn’t buy the lie. But you would like it. Entertain it. Embrace it. Tattoo it on your heart even. Would you regret accepting the lie? In rushed moments maybe, like when you’re late for work or riding on a rollercoaster. But never during the slow ones, like when walking amongst the solitary gravestones or when lying alone in bed.

If Descriptions of Heaven were a traffic light, it would be yellow. Cautionary—telling you to slow down and watch for the red light that’s bound to descend and take up its glowing command.

If Descriptions of Heaven were your dad, as a young child, you’d love the way he taught you things. As a teenager, you’d hate his lectures, his language. As an adult, you’d appreciate his struggles, his grizzled vulnerability. As an old man, you’d wonder how such an anachronism could still function in this world of digitization and environmental catastrophe.

If Descriptions of Heaven were your little brother, you’d tell him to shut up when watching TV, but you’d hold him if ever he came home from school crying.

If Descriptions of Heaven were a holiday, it’d be Halloween. Strange things would wander from it, begging alms at the door. But peer closely—see the zippers, see the strings holding on the masks. Lift up the false faces these wild things don, and a mundane hunger will look at the candy dish being withheld. Trick, they will say. Trick. Trick. Trick.

If Descriptions of Heaven were a flavor of ice cream, it’d be vanilla chocolate chip. Familiar and comforting vanilla with bites of sweet darkness. It would be scooped with a spoon of antique silver. It would be served in a bowl taken from great grandmother’s locked pantry of good china.

If Descriptions of Heaven were the moon, it would glow more brightly, wane more slowly. It would fissure and shake in its wanders across the sky. It would break apart in its loneliness and strew the earth with its rocky tears.

If Descriptions of Heaven were the Bible, it would be mostly the Old Testament half. And God would be a quieter deity. So quiet, in fact, that every sentence would end with a question mark or a trail of speculating ellipses . . .


Randal Eldon Greene’s short fiction has appeared in 34thParallel, as|peers, Unbroken Journal, NPR online, and elsewhere. Greene holds a degree in English and Anthropology from the University of South Dakota. He is a volunteer judge of fiction for Heart & Mind Zine and works full time as a seeing eye human for his blind dog, Missy. Greene lives in Sioux City, Iowa. His typos are tweeted at @authorgreene and his website is found at authorgreene.com.

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