Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

I found this browsing in Half Price Books. I had read A Reliable Wife several years ago and was unaware of Goolrick’s second novel. A Reliable Wife is one of those books that stays with you for a long time–you keep thinking about it. Heading Out to Wonderful does not disappoint. Goolrick’s prose is beautiful: slow, but not too slow; revealing just enough as he unwinds a dark tale of love and obsession. If you are looking for a happy ending, don’t pick this up. I am not giving anything away here, the reader knows within the first few pages that Charlie Beale’s tale will end in tragedy, but can’t stop reading, hoping that maybe she is wrong and that it will all work out.  If you read A Reliable Wife, you know that Goolrick is not that kind of writer.  It will be a tale well told, but it will not end well.

Heading Out to Wonderful is written in the tradition of Southern Gothic novels with a cast of small town folks who ignore eccentricities among their own, but expect a certain adherence to unwritten rules. When a hillbilly marries the wealthiest man in town, she is still a hillbilly and Sylvan is peculiar to boot.  Charlie comes to town in the wake of World War II looking for a place to call home.  He settles in working as a butcher and everyone in town loves him, but one look at Sylvan is all it takes to unravel it all. Moody, haunting and beautifully crafted, Heading Out to Wonderful brings to mind the best of the 1940s Noir.

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