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Goodbye Emily Paperback – January 1, 2013
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""Oh my ... I had no idea what I was in for when I started reading this book. Wonderfully engaging, heart-warming, entertaining and soooooo very good that it had me taking a walk down memory lane with the story's flashbacks to the sixties and Woodstock. (And no, I wasn't a member of the Woodstock Nation, but I can safely claim that my Woodstock album has more grooves and scratch marks than any other album I've owned!)
Honestly, I don't think I've ever read a book where I connected with that many issues personally, all those themes from the heart-breaking loss of a loved one, to coming to terms with all the challenges, both physical and emotional, of growing old, of renewing your purpose in life and living, of reconnecting with old friends and family, of discovering who you really are. As I read, I felt myself riding that emotional rollercoaster, crying, laughing, feeling like my heart would break as I empathized with Sparky, Josh, and Buck and their journey through life, back to the place where it all seems to have started for them.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, highly recommend it. And if you choose to read Goodbye Emily, I hope you find it as much of a fulfilling experience as I did. Thank you, Michael Murphy!""
Kathryn Long, Goodreads Reviewer
Country Joe McDonald
They met at Woodstock, and the love lasted a lifetime. Then she was gone, and so was his college teaching job. Heartbroken but determined, he calls on his two best friends to help him return to the place it all began.The professor and his Woodstock buddy need the third tripper from back in the day, now in a nursing home with early stage Alzheimer’s. When the home refuses to allow their friend to come along, the professor and the vet bust him out, attracting the attention of the cops and the media, fascinating the public.
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Top Customer Reviews
The writing here is an easy narrative. The author doesn't do word gymnastics to impress us. He gets out of the way and allows the story to unravel around us, pulling us in until we are a part of it all.
As Sparky struggles to let go of the wife he misses so badly, his dream world takes him back to Woodstock, where they met and fell in love. I'm not usually a fan of books that go back and forth in time. Nor am I a fan of stories told through dreams. But those things didn't even occur to me until I began writing this review. The transitions flows effortlessly, never feeling disjointed or contrived.
Goodbye Emily is one of those stories that leaves a lasting impact on readers.
Walter "Sparky" Ellington is a recently fired English professor who's dying of a broken heart. His beloved Emily, who he met at Woodstock, passed away two years ago and he can't get over her. He is becoming a recluse and his health is deteriorating as he drowns his sorrows in Jim Beam. At sixty, he awaits death.
However, a whole ensemble of compelling characters work to prevent that from happening. Drugs, sex, and rock `n roll are all a part of the story. Sparky's ultimate quest - to spread Emily's ashes at Yasgur's farm with two childhood friends, one with PTSD from `Nam and one with Alzheimers' - turns into a riotous car chase in a psychedelic van, eluding state troopers and an overzealous DA, while his attorney daughter struggles to keep the old man out of prison...I can't say more, because I don't want to spoil it. But this is a great story, replete with vignettes from that grand concert and musical references that I hadn't thought of for years and now can't get out of my head, like Arlo Guthrie and "Comin' into Los AngelEEZ..."
I loved the humanity of the characters. The men were kind to each other, in spite of the usual manly wolf tickets. I felt they demonstrated a depth of personality that only becomes a possibility after a long and rich life - rich in the sense of joy as well as anguish. I chuckled along, and in places I cried, and I finished the book with sad/happy tears running down my face - happy to have enjoyed the memories and sad for the days gone by.
Because this is a page turner, and in spite of the serious issues it deals with, Goodbye Emily is a fun read, a "feel good" read. There are comic touches but also deep feelings as grief is overcome and transformed, as new loves arise and old friendships are renewed. Even the dog is memorable.
Why not give it five stars? The plot and characters deserve it and so does the writing. The missing star is simply due to the quality of the editing that could have insured a perfect script yet didn't (for example, the flashbacks tend to be too predictable and a varying structure for them would have been preferable). But these are highly technical points and they don't detract from the pleasure of reading.
Walt Ellington, a.k.a. Sparky has Broken-Heart Syndrome. Emily, the love of his life died two years ago, but for Sparky it was as if it had just happened. Sparky despite his name has no zest for life. He lost it when Emily died. Sparky took up drinking, isolated from his friends, and lost his job as a professor at Milton College.
He was wasting away until his daughter confronted him about his failing health. He agreed it was time to make some changes. One of those changes, he decided would be a road trip to Woodstock, the place where he first met his beloved Emily. Sparky wanted his friends Buck and Josh with him when he said his final goodbye. Buck was totally onboard with Sparky’s idea. The fact that Josh had Alzheimer's Disease and that they would have to break him out of an Assisted Care Living Facility for their nostalgic hippie trip was just a wrinkle in their plan.
This book is so much more than just a trip down memory lane. It’s a story about life, its joys its heartaches and everything in-between. Michael Murphy touched my heart deeply in this story, moving me to tears of both joy and sorrow. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. It will. This author’s writing is so engrossing and includes so many authentic details of the 1960’s, that you will feel as if you are actually there.
I highly recommend reading Goodbye Emily. There isn’t a boring page in the entire book. I read it in one day and loved every single moment of it. Treat yourself to a powerful journey. You’ll be glad you did. I guarantee it.