Heading Out to Wonderful

Robert Goolrick. Algonquin, $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-56512-923-8
Goolrick’s tale of doomed love resonates like a folk ballad, with the language of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its people giving this novel its soul. Just after WWII, 39-year-old veteran Charlie Beale arrives in smalltown Brownsburg, Va., hoping for a brighter future. He offers his services to the local butcher, Will Haislett, and works his way into the good graces of Haislett’s family, especially five-year-old Sam. But even as Charlie finds acceptance, he remains apart in Brownsburg: he attends services in every church before finally finding redemption in an African-American Episcopal service; he buys up more land than he needs; and he makes a big mistake by falling for Sylvan Glass, the young wife of wealthy, old, vulgar Harrison Glass, who bought Sylvan at 17 “like a head of cattle.” Sylvan, an outsider like Charlie, dreams of Hollywood, while Charlie simply yearns for a place to call home. Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) tells their story from multiple perspectives, most poignantly that of Sam’s, a boy trying to make sense of the unfolding tragedy. Like any good ballad, the narrative builds slowly to its violent climax, packs an emotional punch, and then haunts readers with its quintessentially American refrain. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (June 12)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
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Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4481-6486-8
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Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-61620-155-5
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Hardcover - 328 pages - 978-1-4448-2092-8
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