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Gone for Good (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – July 6, 1999


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Gone for Good (Ballantine Reader's Circle) + Tender + One Mississippi
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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (July 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345414535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345414533
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Seventies folk-rock icon Ben "Superman" Willis may be at the height of his fame, but he's not having very much fun. The touring lifestyle has lost its luster, his marriage to a former Miss Southwest Louisiana is on the rocks, and his only real pleasure comes from flying his Beechcraft Baron twin-engine plane 9,000 feet above all his earthly obligations. One day, Superman's plane goes missing, thanks to a storm, a faulty compass, and some very strong dope. To the rest of the world, it's as if he has disappeared into thin air. In reality, he crash lands on a lush tropical island, where the first person he sees bears an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe. As he recuperates, he meets various other castaways: an elderly aviatrix who may or may not be Amelia Earhart; her cross-dressing putative copilot; elegant Princess Annie; and a barrel-chested barbecue chef named Jimmy--Hoffa, that is. Just like these famously dead and disappeared celebrities, Superman has found the one place that could fulfill his own secret wish: to fly so far away from his own life that he registers on no one's radar at all.

The author of wacky Southern bildungsromans such as Tender and Crazy in Alabama, Mark Childress branches out into new imaginative territory with Gone for Good, a novel with an all-star cast and a sprawling, slightly ramshackle plot. Superman's presence on the island unleashes some mighty odd goings-on, involving a power-mad islander the locals call El Mago, armies of mystically inclined monkeys, and a wizened native sage who produces gnomic utterances such as "Sometime is no why. Sometime just is." At times it seems that Childress's hero has escaped one adolescent male fantasy (rock & roll stardom) only to fall into the arms of another: he gains magical powers, makes love to Marilyn Monroe, and engages in some highly entertaining monkey-wrenching against the island's would-be developers. Plus, everybody keeps telling him how important he is. No matter: like Superman himself, the book has a shaggy-dog charm, and in the end, the author produces some moving truths about fame, love, and what it truly means to disappear. --Mary Park --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

A disappointing allegory from a proven talent about wealth, fame and wisdom, Childress's fifth novel (after Crazy in Alabama) begins with some effective hooks but bogs down in silly subplots. Atop the pop charts in 1972, Ben "Superman" Willis strays while flying himself to a concert and crash-lands on a tropical island peopled by celebrities presumed dead, where he lives out everyone's usual fantasies with them. He tires of the seclusion, however, and tries to escape, but "the Magician" who owns the island (a famous billionaire identified in the end) thwarts his efforts. When the Magician ruins the island's charm with his luxury hotel project, Superman organizes the locals to fight but eventually stands alone using the trite Castaneda-like wisdom and magic that the locals teach him. Eventually, Superman's son, Ben Junior, tracks him to the island, overcoming predictable trials. Superman triumphs over the Magician and returns to work things out with former wife and son?and to give that long-postponed concert, letting Junior sing the anthem "Superman's Revenge." But the salvation that comes from rejecting wealth and fame for simple pleasures feels hollow in a story that makes disbelief so hard to suspend?and gives so little reason to suspend it.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Mark Childress is the author of seven novels: GEORGIA BOTTOMS (Little, Brown, 2011), ONE MISSISSIPPI, GONE FOR GOOD, CRAZY IN ALABAMA, TENDER, V FOR VICTOR, and A WORLD MADE OF FIRE.

Born in Monroeville, Alabama - the same town Harper Lee wrote about in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Childress is one of three sons of Roy and Mary Helen Childress. Roy was a salesman for Ralston Purina, so the family moved a lot growing up: Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, and Louisiana were some of the stops along the way.

Childress attended Clinton (Miss.) High School and the University of Alabama, where he studied fiction writing under Barry Hannah and Kitty Johnson. He worked as a staff writer for the Birmingham (Ala.) News, and was Features Editor of Southern Living magazine and National Editor of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution before becoming a full-time novelist.

His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday Review, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Travel and Leisure, and other national and international publications.

"Tender," a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection, was named to several Ten Best of 1990 lists, and appeared on many national bestseller lists. "Crazy in Alabama," a featured selection of the Literary Guild, has been published in eleven languages and appeared on many bestseller lists and Ten Best of 1993 lists. "Crazy" was named The (London) Spectator's "Book of the Year" for 1993 and a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year," and was on the Spiegel bestseller list in Germany for 10 months.

"One Mississippi" was a BookSense Notable Book of the Year, nominated for SIBA Book of the Year,and appeared on the "hot summer book" lists of Good Morning America, People, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, O: the Oprah Magazine, and the New York Public Library. The paperback edition is now in its seventh printing.

"Georgia Bottoms" was a New York Times bestseller and appeared on a variety of "hot" lists.

Childress has also written three picture books for children, "Joshua and Bigtooth," in 1992, "Joshua and the Big Bad Blue Crabs," 1996 (both from Little, Brown), and "Henry Bobbity Is Missing And It Is All Billy Bobbity's Fault," (Crane Hill Publishers, 1996).

He wrote the screenplay of the Columbia Pictures film "Crazy in Alabama," directed by Antonio Banderas, and starring Melanie Griffith, an official selection of the Venice and San Sebastian film festivals in 1999.

Childress is now working on his eighth novel and a film project. He lives in Key West, Florida.

(Author photo by Brett Hall)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gone for Good combines the elements of fantasy and fiction in this thrilling novel about a rock star who crash lands on an uncharted island and is made part of a mysterious community, from which he is not permitted to leave. The license Childress takes with his real characters makes this among the most unusual, and most satisfying books I have read in a long time. It is different, but in a good way from most of the best selling garbage put out there. If you are looking for the next John Grisham book, don't buy this book, but if you are looking for something that challenges conventions without the pretensions of many unique authors, put it in your shopping cart NOW. Despite the fantastic elements to the story, Childress keeps the story grounded in his kooky reality because the characters are above all, very human.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joel Bittle on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mark Childress has a way of writing that makes you believe that some of his fantastic events can actually happen. He writes so matter-of-factly that we as readers say OK, so the head in the tupperware container is talking or OK, so Marilyn Monroe is alive on an island. But what drew me to this book, the ideas of celebrities alive somewhere remote, is not what glued me to it. The heart of the story is what pulls us apart as families - everything that gets in the way of "reaching" our family, so much so that one needs to be invisible to the rest of the world to be visible to his son or wife. I loved reading this book.
I also read this on the beach in Costa Rica, so I identified with the theme of paradise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reads Thrillers on January 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
A fantasy novel that stretches your suspension of disbelief; a rock star that can fly, become invisible, swing through the trees like an ape and an old man that can make things rise into the air at will, including an airplane.

On this magical Island, Ben "Superman" Willis slowly discovered famous people that he knew had died years before, such as Jimmy Hoffa that barbecued chicken for guests. Can Ben ever escape and get back to his family or does he want to after reading that his wife has married his hippy manager.

I wondered how Ben got his pilot's license since he made multiple mistakes and got lost when he was flying from El Paso to his next concert in Phoenix. The writing was good and I liked Ben Jr. and wanted him to find his daddy that disappeared years before. His only clue was a poorly made Polaroid picture, found in a bottle floating thousands of miles away, that showed an Island with twin peaks.

It was an enjoyable easy read when you don't have a thriller close by.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jon Spoelstra on June 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Read it, love it, savor it. This book is really fun to read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Have to say that I agree with the reviewer below - this book has taken a really unfair slam from some critics. It's brilliant and, in light of recent events, rather prescient too. I mean -- a famous guy disappears in his light plane and the media go nuts? Sound familiar? Read it and you'll have to enjoy it...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I don't know why this book didn't get raves and leap to the top of bestseller lists. It's a brilliant combination of the Southern Gothic and the Latin American magic realist tradition. Twenty years from now people will look back in wonder at the lack of attention for this wonderful book.
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By T. Ryan on January 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful creative novel.
This was a really fun story.
Mark Childress is always a great read.
I have never been disappointed in a Childress book.
Read all of his books, they are all so different.
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By Carlos F. Licona on August 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Childless captures your attention from the very beginning. Then he takes you for a ride through unexpected twists and turns that keep you turning the pages as fast as you can read.
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