Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, March 16, 2007

It's The End Of The World As We Know It and he's not feeling fine

Reading someone's life story,even a small part of it,can be an interesting and exciting experience that lets you literally walk a mile in another man's shoes. That walk can have some pretty rough spots or just be a long scenic route that goes nowhere in particular but you're in no hurry to arrive at the assumed destination just yet.

In the case of Robert Goolrick's upcoming memoir,The End Of The World As We Know It,despite the increasing emotional pain on every page,you do want to reach the end if only to find out what terrible family secret has driven this poor man to such despair that he took to cutting himself so badly on both arms that when a niece asked him how that happened,his story about falling thru a plate glass window sounded plausible. Goolrick takes the reader thru the sad mystery of his life and that of his parents who seemed hellbent on being bitterly discontented.

Goolrick grew up in Virginia in the 1950's and the atmosphere at home was like one long cocktail party. His father was a history professor and his mom was a reluctant homemaker who would host the numerous social gatherings held for their friends. They seemed to live in a world of lovely parties and good times. That was merely an acceptable social mask for the reality of their life together. His parents were also alcoholics who would pack a suitcase full of bourbon for any long trip.

Alcohol is a key clue in deciphering what lead Goolrick to seek love in all the wrong places as he grew up and to turn to self mutilation. There seemed to be an almost unspoken but there nonetheless begrudging agreement to keep the peace between Goolrick and his parents that nearly broke out into open warfare at times. He attempted to write a novel based on his family once and even innocent details like a cocktail dress of his mother's that was only worn once,due to a cigarette burn,caused his mother and father to verbally lash out at him,calling him a betrayer.

Despite their coldness to him,Goolrick would try time and again to win them over with gifts(like buying the family home that they could no longer afford to keep up and later in life,was over run with rats)and accomplishments but nothing seemed to matter to them,beyond where their next drink was.

As the book gets closer to what did cause this broken bond and even afterwards,several chapters read like epic poems of sorrow,wondering how they ever managed to live a regular life filled with ordinary pleasures with the dark shadow of this hideous thing looming in the background,silent yet ever present.

The End of the World As We Know It is not a "blame my family" screed,rather it's one man's attempt at finding peace with himself and gaining closure with what happened to him so long ago. He doesn't paint his parents as monsters but does deal with his anger and selfhatred,trying to put all of his issues to rest. This is not a gentle read but it is a beautifully written testament to going thru the fire and coming out as whole as you can on the other side.

Robert Goolrick's book will be in stores on March 23 and if you would like to see him on his author tour,please click the title link above to see if he will be at a bookstore near you. This is a sad story but it is one definately worth the telling.

1 comment:

Robin Brande said...

Wow, powerful stuff. Isn't it always amazing what goes on with families behind closed doors?