Monday, August 16, 2010

The End of the World As We Know It--Robert Goolrick

August 16, 2010
The End of the World As We Know It, by Robert Goolrick, is a memoir of one of the worst kinds of tragedies that can happen to a small child whose world is meant to be protected by the very ones who betray that trust. The aftermath of the abuse and the family's compilicity in protecting the facade of the perfect family at the expense of the well-being of the child is saddening and horrific.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of human rights activists, however, I'm going to attempt to separate Goolrick's actual experiences from his skill in conveying those experiences. His writing, though it may have served a purpose and been cathartic for him, perhaps should have been best left to a journal or diary, or perhaps even notes in his psychiatrist's file. Although he endures, as a four year old, abuse that certainly elicits empathy, we don't get to know the protagonist in any real way, or even know anything at all about the tragedy that so profoundly shapes who he is, until three-quarters of the way through the book. Up until that time, his 'big reveal', if you will, the aloofness of the character, the lack of any real knowledge of who he is and what makes him tick, makes it very difficult for a reader to connect with him or to care much about him. As a human being, once the reveal comes we understand why he is the way he is; as an author, it is too much of a risk to make ones readers wait until nearly the end of the novel to find out why we should care about him.


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