Goolrick begins his debut work with a moment he hopes will bring him closure—returning to his Southern home to bury his abusive father. Peeling away the family's carefully constructed facade like the layers of an onion, this brave memoir tells of a childhood marred by alcoholism and an adulthood mired in loneliness, substance abuse and self-mutilation. The son of an indolent college professor and an unfulfilled, Valium-placated housewife, Goolrick grows up in a 1950s home where lavish cocktail parties and false bourgeois airs are sacred, and disclosing the family's slightest imperfection is sinful. Goolrick is never forgiven for his own minor trespasses, despite showering his struggling, status-hungry parents with extravagant gifts (he even resorts to buying them the family home they could never afford to own). Eventually it is revealed that their unhealthy dynamic and Goolrick's attempted suicide stem largely from a single, life-altering incident: his rape by his drunken father at the age of four. In the end, Goolrick has written a moving, unflinchingly rendered story of how the past can haunt a life. (Mar.)
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"If you don't receive love from the ones who are meant to love you," writes Goolrick toward the end of his engrossing memoir, "you will never stop looking for it." He opens the window into his lonely life in small increments, beginning with parents whose lives revolved around the cocktail hour. After the guests departed, bitterness and depression hung over the house, and love for one another was never expressed. Goolrick moves on to his own heavy drinking and the death wish that drove him to slit his wrist on his thirty-fifth birthday. He cuts himself daily for two months, then lands in the "loony bin," where the "viciousness and multiplicity" of his cuts make him a star. Finally Goolrick confides the horrific experience of being raped by his drunken father at age four, his mother watching but doing nothing. Goolrick knows he has never recovered; the reader only hopes that writing of his story will bring him some small measure of peace. Deborah Donovan
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Robert Goolrick is one of my favorite fiction writers. I picked up this memoir, fully expecting the writing to be excellent. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Kath Hall
It was different than anything I have read before. Not a happy book but something to think about.Published 4 months ago by Suzy Q
A very sad story but more common than any of us would like to think. This book was very well written and in my opinion would be painful to put on paper.Published 5 months ago by Karen Stauffer
This book is so disturbing that I can't really say I liked it. What does one say?Published 10 months ago by JillyOhio