Tag Archives: Robert Goolrick

An Assault on the Reader (And That’s High Praise)

When you end up feeling devastated for the little boy who was Robert Goolrick you will feel like it is THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT, the title of his coming-of-age memoir.

It’s hard for me to write about this book.

Goolrick’s memoir is lyrical and beautiful and tantalizing and glittering. It also presents two viewpoints of the same characters–a sophisticated intellectual family–and the bottom-of-the-barrel people that they became. But the way Goolrick balances these things, you don’t realize what is coming.

Then he slams the reader with betrayal and brutality.

Yes, I mean that the reader is assaulted. But Goolrick does so to re-enact how he, as a little boy, was assaulted with betrayal and brutality.

What I learned from this book (aside from the fact that there are books so amazingly written I can’t even hope to follow their model) is that it is possible to withhold something important until way way way into a book.  It’s not only possible, but it can be stunning.

I walked around feeling stunned two, maybe three, weeks after I finished reading this book. A few years out, I still feel a little stunned. Now that is a memoir.


Filed under Book Review, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing