The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life

Robert Goolrick, Author
Robert Goolrick, Author . Algonquin $22.95 (213p) ISBN 978-1-56512-481-3
Reviewed on: 11/27/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Paperback - 225 pages - 978-1-56512-602-2
Open Ebook - 242 pages - 978-1-56512-635-0
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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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