I bought this book based on some of the glowing reviews I'd read of it (many of which I read here), but I was disappointed. It's about 200 page too long. It's a slow, tedious book to read. I had to slog my way through it.
Golden, the main character, is pretty much a one-dimensional person. I never felt much sympathy or connection with him. The book goes from Golden's non-Mormon childhood, to BAM . . . he's a polygamist. I wanted more background on what brought him to where he was.
This isn't a horrible book, but I've read better. If you're looking for a better, more interesting book about polygamy, try "The 19th Wife."
scottymedog, September 30, 2011 (view all comments by scottymedog)
I'm a little late to the party on being entranced with this book, but I had to comment anyway...to convince those who haven't read it to give it a try. The main character is, as the title suggests, a lonely polygamist. Things are not going well in Golden Richards life, despite (or because of) his 4 wives and 26 children. Brady Udall is a brilliant writer; by the end of the book, you feel that you personally know each character and care deeply about all of them. Aside from the evocative sense of place, his descriptions of the logistics of being a polygamist are fascinating. My only problem is deciding whether The Lonely Polygamist or The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint is the better book - I'd have to say they are equally great!
Rick Borsten, September 25, 2011 (view all comments by Rick Borsten)
Though I loved the title, I started THE LONELY POLYGAMIST deeply doubting that I'd ever be able to relate to the protagonist, Golden Richards, a Mormon fundamentalist with four wives and twenty-eight children. A protagonist who, as it turns out--despite the four wives and twenty-eight children--is feeling lonely and isolated, ready, perhaps, to plunge into an affair. But only a few pages into the story, I found myself liking, even empathizing with, Golden. By the time I was a third of the way in, I flat out adored the guy. And when I finished the last page, I let the book drop onto my lap, stunned to realize that Brady Udall had somehow just told MY story. Not the specifics, but the wondrous and confounding experience of what it means to be human in this world. But then, this is precisely the magic of great literature. This is why those of us who love fiction open a new novel so eagerly and hungrily. With THE LONELY POLYGAMIST, Brady Udall affords us a rare opportunity to be put under that spell we've been longing for.
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Matthew Yasuoka, August 1, 2011 (view all comments by Matthew Yasuoka)
The magic of this book stems from its lovable cast of characters. From Rusty to Trish to Golden and everyone in between, Udall deftly manages to craft a cast of characters who will enchant you with his literary spell, helping you to fall in love with them, making the tragic aspects of the novel even more so. In the end it is a novel about people, who while extremely different than the norm in terms of life style, are exactly like us at the end of the day, forming the perfect lattice work for a heart wrenching tragicomic tale that you will want to recommend to every single person you know.
W. W. Norton & Company -
by Heidi Mager,
The Lonely Polygamist spotlights the fragile humanity of the title character, Golden Richards, and his extended family. Through masterful prose filled with palpable heartache — not to mention all manner of hi-jinks — Udall shows that love really can conquer all.
by Heidi Mager
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"A family drama with stinging turns of dark comedy, the latest from Udall (The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint) is a superb performance and as comic as it is sublimely catastrophic. Golden Richards is a polygamist Mormon with four wives, 28 children, a struggling construction business, and a few secrets. He tells his wives that the brothel he's building in Nevada is actually a senior center, and, more importantly, keeps hidden his burning infatuation with a woman he sees near the job site. Golden, perpetually on edge, has become increasingly isolated from his massive family — given the size of his brood, his solitude is heartbreaking — since the death of one of his children. Meanwhile, his newest and youngest wife, Trish, is wondering if there is more to life than the polygamist lifestyle, and one of his sons, Rusty, after getting the shaft on his birthday, hatches a revenge plot that will have dire consequences. With their world falling apart, will the family find a way to stay together? Udall's polished storytelling and sterling cast of perfectly realized and flawed characters make this a serious contender for Great American Novel status." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Lovers of good writing will find this a pleasure, period." (Starred Review)
by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
"Brady Udall's new book is funny, touching and powerful. Its images tickle and glow, disturb and soothe. Sprawling, ambitious, and assured, Mr. Udall's first novel since his 2001 debut, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, bursts with language and originality....Read this. It's a sure bet for Great American Novel of 2010."
by The Denver Post,
"A strength of the work is Udall's careful focus....Udall's prose is affectionate....A fair warning to the reader: The novel's prose and characters are addicting. Don't pick this one up unless you have the time to spend. It's original and lots of fun."
by The Oregonian,
"The book reads easily, with much humor and occasional stabbing sorrow....I don't know how true to life this story may be. But it feels right, it reads beautifully and often hilariously, and I liked it an awful lot."
by Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief and Animal Crackers,
"Funny and wise, The Lonely Polygamist stands with other great family novels such as The Corrections and Middlesex, and sets Udall on the top shelf of America's writers."
by John Dufresne, author of Love Warps the Mind a Little,
"The Lonely Polygamist is a hefty, eager, and bittersweet novel, and it is a page-turner. Brady Udall deals with familial chaos, reckless behavior, and alarming pyrotechnics with wit, grace, and tenderness. He's an enchanter who casts his spell with exquisite sentences and unerring, evocative details. Here is a writer of inordinate compassion and formidable intelligence. Read this remarkable novel, friend, live with it, and I promise you this, little Rusty Richards will haunt your dreams."
From a luminous storyteller, a highly anticipated new novel about the American family writ large.
[An] exceptional tale of an exceptional family.A profoundly satisfying read, written with a ferocious verve and authenticity.Uproarious . . . Udall’s storytelling [displays] ease and humor.An absorbing, moving entertaining novel that will transport the reader into Golden’s chaotic world.I don’t know how true to life this story may be. But it feels right, and it reads beautifully and often hilariously, and I liked it an awful lot.A brilliantly crafted mini-epic that is at turns hilarious, terrifying, and heartbreaking . . . Cinematic . . . A potential classic.Entertaining . . . very moving . . . Impressive.If you're looking for a big, funny, moving novel to read this spring, look no farther.A rich, poignant look at a family whose lifestyle may seem absolutely aberrant, but for whom life’s issues are wholeheartedly normal.One of the best novels I’ve read in a while . . . Golden Richards, middle-aged, 6-foot-6 polygamist with an overbite, is one of the most appealing, original, and brilliantly tragicomic protagonists to appear in American fiction in some time.Terrifically thought-provoking . . . a constantly shifting but marvelously controlled story.[A] compelling, rollicking story.How often does The Great American Novel truly come along?The Lonely Polygamistis a great American novel, perhaps the great American novel of the year.There's something cinematic about the way Udall presents this tale, with at least a handful of dramatic scenes that seem to beg for a big-screen treatment. Furthermore, Udall's poetic rendering of the Southwestern landscape brings to mind the lingering, panoramic shots of films like Brokeback Mountainand A River Runs Through It. But most of all it's Golden, Rusty and the novel's other complex characters that make The Lonely Polygamista potential classic. They remain with the reader after the last page is turned.
For fans of George Saunders and Raymond Carver, this powerful, imaginative story collection takes readers on a journey from the afterlife to contemporary times to the early days of Mormonism—a stunning debut by an acclaimed McSweeneys and Tin House contributor.
Winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction
Shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Named "Outstanding 2014 Collection" by The Story Prize
Pushcart Prize WinnerIn this stunning debut, Shawn Vestal transports us to the afterlife, the rugged Northwest, and the early days of Mormonism. From “The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death,” an absurd, profound vision of a hellish heaven, to “Winter Elders,” in which missionaries calmly and relentlessly pursue a man who has left the fold, these nine stories illuminate the articles of faith that make us human.
The concluding triptych tackles the legends and legacy of Mormonism head-on, culminating in “Diviner,” a seriocomic portrait of the young Joseph Smith, back when he was not yet the founder of a religion but a man hired to find buried treasure. Godforsaken Idaho is an indelible collection by the writer you need to read next.Godforsaken Idaho named 'Outstanding 2013 Short Story Collections' by The Story Prize
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