cover image House of Pain: New and Selected Essays

House of Pain: New and Selected Essays

Laurence Gonzales. Univ. of Arkansas, $24.95 trade paper (309 pages) ISBN 978-1-55728-999-5

National Magazine Award finalist Gonzales (Deep Survival) has always been searching for a sense of "authenticity," harboring a desire to be "annealed in the fires [of experience]" that marked his adored father's life. This collection represents "[his] attempt to face down danger and prove [himself]" in that quest. In these essays and exposés, he explores the edges of the world through his own experiences, as well as through the eyes of an eccentric and disparate group of subjects. Drawing from his travels across America, he relates tales that take place at prisons, circuses, and mental wards. Many of the essays are personal, including his wife's battle with cancer and the stress-filled life of his friend, a public hospital neurosurgeon. The prose is unflinching in its depictions of emotional turmoil and physical pain; depending on one's taste, it will register as poetic and visceral or as theatrical and indulgent, but in either case, evocative. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Oct.)