Henry RÃos: Heaven = Forgiveness
Bleary-eyed this morning because I was up until 2 AM with a murder mystery I just could not put down. I could not stop reading until I got to the end and found out the “whodunit” answer.
“The Burning Plain” is taut, polished writing that moves with brisk structure and strong lyric description. Some of the phrases are so wonderful that you have to read them over just to enjoy the words.
The characters evolve with strong visual and psychological depth. It’s a fiction way to reflect on social policy, philosophy — theology. Here is one of the dialog moments between the hero, Henry RÃos, and his friend, Grant:
Grant: “Of course I believe in an afterlife. Don’t you?
Henry: “In heaven and hell? No”
He put his arm around me. “Heaven and hell? You’re just like Hugo. He can only imagine heaven if there’s a hell. Well, you’re both Catholic, after all. Me, Henry, I think it’s all heaven. Great food, good weather, hunky guys.”
“You’re describing San Francisco,” I pointed out.
“Why not?” Why shouldn’t it be lke this, but without the suffering?”
“Even for those who inflict suffering?
“We all inflict suffering, honey,” he said. “And we all suffer. Why not a world where everyone forgives everyone else for good?”
“Not everything can be forgiven,” I said.
He shook his head. “That’s why you worry about hell.”
“Burning Plain” is Michael Nava’s penultimate (Nava has retired the lawyer-detective Henry Rios) in a seven-book mystery series that shows the bad and good textures of American society. It’s been called a bildungsroman that is an American Classic.