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Books: A Reliable Wife

October 28, 2009 | Books

I just finished reading A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. He had me on the second page with this: “Nothing says hell has to be fire, thought Ralph Truitt, standing in his sober clothes on the platform of the tiny train station in the frozen middle of frozen nowhere. Hell could be like this. It could be darker every minute. It could be cold enough to sear the skin from your bones.”

Someone who wrote those words had to have spent at least one winter in the great, cold North. When explaining to a friend recently about winter in the North, I said, “Norway winters are much different than Iowa winters, but each is its own special version of hell. Norway is the land of the midnight sun in summer, which means NO sun in the winter. Incredibly depressing. We lived on the west coast, which is right on the fjords and near the Atlantic, which meant TONS of snow. Until June. Iowa doesn’t get as much snow, but the wind whips up some mountainous drifts, and it’s bitterly cold. The kind of cold you can’t be in too long before your ears pop right off.”

I bought his book at the recently opened local bookstore that has a shelf of “local” authors and books. Goolrick’s book is about Wisconsin, and I bought it more for that (and the pretty cover … whoever designed the cover obviously read the book, and … wow) than the author. I wasn’t familiar with him. I took the book home and stashed it on my to-read pile.

In the meantime, seemingly everyone was talking about the arrest of Roman Polanski and all that surrounded that decades-old crime. I read this article, Polanski’s Victim And Me, posted on The Daily Beast. What a powerful article, I thought. Then I looked at the author. Hmm. There was something familiar about his name. I turned and looked at my shelf. I had his book sitting there. Wow. There must be more to this book than I originally thought.

Goolrick seemed somewhat surprised at the … humanity … of the North / Midwest. It didn’t really surprise me, but I grew up here. He kept me interested all the way through, and he surprised the hell out of me at a key turning point. I honestly didn’t see it coming. What, for all intents and purposes, should be a tragic commentary on the human condition is actually a testament to the strength and sheer stubbornness of some human beings.

Such things happen.

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am  

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