Critics’ Reviews

The recurring pleasure of Rising Stories lies in the subtle interaction between people and buildings, the skyscrapers of Chicago revealing their various personalities as sites for intimate, sometimes harrowing, human stories. An elegant and affecting novel.
Mark Kingwell, author of Nearest Thing to Heaven: The Empire State Building and American Dreams, and of Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City
Rising Stories manages to surprise, satisfy and delight all at the same time, as its protagonists—inhabitants of Chicago’s skyscrapers—recount their stories and those of the towering buildings that are integral to them. The narrative is gentle in tone but magisterial in scope, and shies away at nothing, including the death of hope in various forms. “There is never a good reason for not trying to do good,” a dead grandmother cautions, ‘but nor should we assume we will succeed.’ An original and compelling page turner.
Elizabeth Abbott, author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History, A History of Marriage and Dogs and Underdogs: Finding Happiness at Both Ends of the Leash
Rising Stories fuses an ode to the romance of Chicago’s towering skyline with a gripping exploration of the mix of tentative affirmation, quiet desperation, and sometimes, vertiginous loss that characterizes the lives of its inhabitants. Its depiction of a child’s uncertainties and stubborn hopefulness conjures an evocative sense of the enduring humanity that animates this cityscape. Running through all of this is a powerful meditation on the continuing role of art in the face of a seemingly indifferent modernity.
Paul Keen, author of Literature, Commerce, and the Spectacle of Modernity
An exquisitely thoughtful, metaphysical novel about maturation, space, and identity. LePan’s prose is delicate and deceptively simple, but powerful in its ability to expose the gravity of childhood and old-age. … an illuminating and deeply felt book.
Melissa Asher Daniels
A beautiful novel what will tell you as much about the history of urban architecture as about the resilience of art, children, and ghosts. LePan gently but firmly touches on the big issues of the twenty-first century—around gender, race, class, sexuality, and the problems of a changing environment— to probe the human impact of them all. … Rising Stories might make you turn away from the clock, and maybe even lose sleep, to keep reading. … It is worth it as you inhabit lives that emerge from tragedy and you share the possibilities of quiet redemption that can come from painting, community, time travel, and, most of all, storytelling.
Laura Moss, co-author of Canadian Literature in English

Posted on November 2, 2015