marathongirl, December 1, 2012 (view all comments by marathongirl)
Dark. Sorrowful. Tortured. Sometimes I'm not sure how people can go on when they have had such horrible events happen to them. I can't help but think it's a miracle that Robert Goolrick is alive, let alone such an incredible writer. (He is the author of one of my favorite books: The Reliable Wife) For me, this was an incredibly hard memoir to read. Of course, that doesn't compare to Mr. Goolrick's agony in living through such trauma. Read this memoir for its inescapable honesty and heart wrenching tale of survival. It will strip you to the bone with its searing portrayal of a childhood lost and a man forever affected by brutality.
I have a son the same age as when Robert was when he was assaulted, and I can't stop reliving his torment. I ache and cry for the tiny boy that the author was. Also, I am a survivor, and I have many questions for him.
I saw his email address once and I can't find it now.
This was a beautiful yet very disturbing look at his life, and I will never, never forget him.
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The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life
Used Trade Paper
0 stars -
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill -
by Alison Smith,
"Stunning... a dark, glimmering jewel of a book. There were moments when the language was so lush and clear and haunting that I was caught up short."
by The New York Times,
"Goolrick adeptly uses a slow, teasing way of revealing himself to the reader... The End of the World As We Know It is barbed and canny, with a sharp eye for the infliction of pain."
"In this brutally painful remembrance of hard drinking, attempted suicide, and childhood trauma, first-time author Goolrick constructs a well-written, nonlinear narrative of his life... Goolrick's memory of the details of his childhood is impressive, as is the deep sense of sorrow...the story evokes. A courageous and successful work."
by Publishers Weekly,
"A moving, unflinchingly rendered story of how the past can haunt a life."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"[An] unnerving, elegantly crafted memoir....Morbidly funny."
by USA Today,
"A gifted writer['s]...memorable account of his terribly flawed family....Searing....It stays with you."
by Kirkus Reviews (starred review),
"A devastating debut memoir about a Southern childhood....The language is lush and poetic while never becoming purple. Goolrick is clearly a victim of his parents' brutal abuse, but he has broken out of the categories of 'victim' and 'survivor' to become a powerful truth-teller."
by Amanda Stern, author of The Long Haul,
"In this profoundly crushing yet redemptive memoir, Goolrick peels back his skin for the reader. Through gorgeous prose, he gradually discloses layer upon layer of deplorable abuse, and as the coating underneath becomes exposed, so too does an exquisitely sensitive soul, whose self-awareness is so uniquely well articulated, it would shock me if the reader's heart went unchanged."
In the tradition of Rick Bragg's All Over but the Shoutin', Goolrick has crafted a classic memoir of childhood and the secrets a heart can't forget. With devastating honesty and razor-sharp wit, he looks back with love, and with anger, at the parents who both created his world and destroyed it.
It was the 1950s, a time of calm, a time when all things were new and everything seemed possible. A few years before, a noble war had been won, and now life had returned to normal.
For one little boy, however, life had become anything but "normal."
To all appearances, he and his family lived an almost idyllic life. The father was a respected professor, the mother a witty and elegant lady, someone everyone loved. They were parents to three bright, smiling children: two boys and a girl. They lived on a sunny street in a small college town nestled neatly in a leafy valley. They gave parties, hosted picnics, went to church--just like their neighbors. To all appearances, their life seemed ideal. But it was, in fact, all appearances.
Lineage, tradition, making the right impression--these were matters of great importance, especially to the mother. But behind the facade this family had created lurked secrets so dark, so painful for this one little boy, that his life would never be the same.
It is through the eyes of that boy--a grown man now, revisiting that time--that we see this seemingly serene world and watch as it slowly comes completely and irrevocably undone.
Beautifully written, often humorous, sometimes sweet, ultimately shocking, this is a son's story of looking back with both love and anger at the parents who gave him life and then robbed him of it, who created his world and then destroyed it.
As author Lee Smith, who knew this world and this family, observed, "Alcohol may be the real villain in this pain-permeated, exquisitely written memoir of childhood--but it is also filled with absolutely dead-on social commentary of this very particular time and place. A brave, haunting, riveting book."
In the Goolrick home there was a law: Never talk about the family in the outside world, never reveal the slightest crack in the facade. To all appearances, they lived an almost idyllic life. Two respected, charming parents everyone loved. Three bright, smiling children. A lovely home on a quiet street nestled in a small college town. But behind the facade this family had created lurked secrets so dark, so painful for one little boy, that his life would never be the same.
With devastating honesty and razor-sharp wit, Goolrick looks back at this seemingly serene time and at the parents who gave him life and then robbed him of it, who created his world and then destroyed it.
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