This Glittering World by T. Greenwood

After the body of a badly beaten Navajo man is discovered in the snow outside his home, Ben Bailey takes the investigation into his own hands, with devastating consequences for his own disordered life.

With every book of hers I read, I become convinced that T. Greenwood is my favorite contemporary author. This Glittering World is one of her best yet, achieving the same level of intensity and feeling as her second novel (and my favorite) Nearer than the Sky.

Protagonist Ben Bailey’s life is at a crossroads. He may or may not be in love with his live-in girlfriend Sara. He teaches history at Northern Arizona University, and he’s supposed to want tenure, but prefers bartending instead. The only thing really knows for sure is that he loves the way the snowstorms cover Flagstaff in an instant, blanketing everything with the sweet, undeniable nothingness he craves for his own life.

The murder mystery at the heart of this novel is compelling for its off-screen brutality. Even while the details remain unknown, Ricky Begay’s end is heartbreakingly easy to imagine. Ben rediscovers his heart and his sense of justice trying to solve the crime–but his instant attraction to Ricky’s older sister Shadi complicates things intensely.

Greenwood brings Flagstaff to light in all its eccentricity. It reminded me of Austin, Texas, and I really want to visit there someday. Her characters are complicated times a million, and despite the sadness pervading the book’s every page, I was swept away by their story because I could connect with all of them on a deep level. In a literary culture where too many authors write to the book club, Greenwood is foisting her unique and compelling point of view on the world with no compromises. More please!

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