introducing readers to writers since 1995

December 03, 2004

Judy Goldman's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

judygoldman.jpgJudy Goldman's second novel, Early Leaving, was published just a few months ago, and her story of a mother waiting to hear what will become of the teenage son recently convicted for killing another young man is "one of those novels you'll remember forever," according to Jill McCorkle. Pat Conroy adds, "Few writers in America have ever written with such passion and insight about the joys and great peril of family life." As Goldman, who has also published two volumes of poetry, explains in her holiday recommendation, she learned by studying one of the best.

For every novelist, I suspect there’s a book that delivered the message, "You, too, can write a novel." For me, that book was Susan Minot's Monkeys. Because I came to fiction by way of poetry, the idea of plot terrified me: how could I achieve the "and then" that propels readers from chapter to chapter? And then I held in my hands this anecdotal novel, with layers of meaning and plotting that are quite subtle. What kept me turning the pages was wanting to know each member of this large, unruly, close but cantankerous, northeastern family. Monkeys is about connection, disconnection, and reconnection. The children break rules and tattle. Older children take care of younger ones. The father drinks. The mother, vivid and loving, dies in a car wreck. Monkeys will clarify your attitudes toward--and strengthen your belief in--family. It also gave me entrance into my own first novel.
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