A Reliable Wife

July 2, 2009 at 9:47 am | Posted in Fiction | 6 Comments

I started this book and wasn’t sure what to think after the first few pages.  I closed it, breathless hours later, with all the little hairs on my arms standing on end and tears prickling my eyes.  No book in my memory has ever left me with that sort of reaction.

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A Reliable Wife has been getting a lot of attention, because it’s really something.  Robert Goolrick’s style is so distinct that I think it’ll be a love-it-or-hate-it book for most people.  It’s magnificent and tawdry, luscious and bleak, a smutty literary potboiler.  A Reliable Wife walks a fine line.  Until the very last sentence I wasn’t sure whether to call it a beach read or an instant classic.  (It’s the latter).

“Twist endings” done poorly can be the most enfuriating, cheap gimmick out there.  So I want to say carefully that there is no way, absolutely no way, you will be able to predict where this book is going until it gets there.  It’s shocking, but not for the reasons you would think.  And it’s great.  There are no books like A Reliable Wife.  Just trust Goolrick and don’t make any other plans for the night you read this one.

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