Tuesday, July 31, 2012

{read: Southern tale of love gone wrong} Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

The beginning of this book reminded me of The Bridges of Madison County with its description of a rural town and the pace of life. Then man meets woman and all hell breaks loose - but slowly, gently, until it gathers momentum and destroys not only the lives of those involved but  the innocence of a small boy. I saw Goolrick at a book signing, and he said the story is true and happened to a butcher on the Greek island of Paros. He heard it told 25 years ago when he lived there and thought it was the best true story he'd ever heard, so he wanted to write it into a novel. He hasn't seen the butcher for 15 years, but he has imagined in the book how he will be when he is 70.

Compared to A Reliable Wife, I thought this book was less complex and had fewer layers. It was a lighter read, but the language is very lyrical and the dialogue flows naturally. Goolrick comes from Virginia and an oral storytelling tradition, and that music flows through his work.

The title comes from this passage:
"When you're young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, but before you get to wonderful you're going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you're ever going to go."

For those of you wondering where the suitcase of money comes from that Charlie brings with him when he comes to town, that will be the subject of Goolrick's next book. He said that the butcher didn't tell him, but he's thought a lot about it as he wrote Heading Out to Wonderful. So stay tuned.

Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2012)
My rating: 4 stars

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