Can't Wait to Get to Heaven (Review)

Labels: A Lighter Touch


Can't Wait to Get to Heaven
Fannie Flagg, 2006
375 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
October 2007

You can't help but love this book. It's warm, funny, and at times a real belly-guffaw. While not a "social novel" in the true literary sense, it's close enough for our "Lighter Touch" novel.

Flagg returns her readers to Elmwood Springs, a small tightly-knit community in Missouri, whose residents fret and scramble and cogitate when one of their own lies near death...or is dead... or hangs somewhere in between.

Eighty-something Elner Shimfissle falls off a ladder and lands in an emergency room. She vacillates between this world and the next—at one point wondering why the hospital staff is wearing green shower caps and paper booties instead of smart white uniforms. At another point Elner meets her dead sister Ida who serves as her escort to heaven. Ida berates Elner for allowing Tot Whooten, the town's favorite hair dresser, to do her casket coif. This was expressly against Ida's dying wishes.

Elner's ties go deep into the community: niece Norma and her husband Macky, Verbena, Ruby, Tots, Luther Griggs, a journalist, a lawyer and even the radio station—each reacting to Elner's accident in his own peculiar way.

Elner's death...or near death (which is it?) leads to a meditation for the living, what constitutes a good life and where it is found? Is heaven only in the next world, or can it be in this world, too?

See our Reading Guide for Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.

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