[I Will Be Complete is] wickedly intelligent and wildly imaginative. [Gold's] books are ripe with larger-than-life scenes you can really sink your teeth into and enjoy a good munching. That Gold is a darn gifted yarn spinner! ... If there’s a fault in I Will Be Complete, it’s that Gold obsesses over his inability to feel anything about his mother’s behavior. While that may be true in his mind, what he’s produced is anything but hardhearted or unsympathetic. Instead, Gold’s memoir is once again wickedly intelligent, wildly imaginative (well, in some ways) and everything in between. Happy munching.
[I Will Be Complete] is a banquet of vivacity, shrewdness and wit, a soiree of heart-wreck wised up by humor. Nor will admirers be surprised by Gold’s welcome gusto as a stylist: His prose overall boasts an assertive, assured presence, unafraid of appealing directly to readers in the realization of its purpose ... If this book is too long by a third, if it’s too much of the same mundane thing, it’s also hard to stay mad at it for its dearth of narrative restraint and cohesion, and for its periodic sputterings of self-pity and grammatical malfeasance, because Gold is a dynamic writer outfitted in wisdom and verve, one whose sentences you’ll want to remember.
As he searches through the attic of his memory, there’s no artifact too minor, no detail too small for Gold to hold up and ask us to ponder with him. His show-and-tell style at times reads like a decades-long diary—whole and unexpurgated ... For writers, having an exhaustive memory is a blessing, but for their readers it can be a curse, leaving them feeling as if they’re in the presence of a hoarder determined to clean out his home. Each time Gold picks up an object, a whole world unfolds. It’s not detail or chronology Gold leaves us longing for; it’s sentimental resonance—and he knows it ... When silent films came to Japan, theaters hired men—benshi—to stand at the side of the screen and translate what was happening, emotionally ... I sometimes wished this book had come with a benshi of its own ... His refusal to fully engage with his mother in life transfers to a certain emotional distance on the page. The son may need to keep her at arm’s length, but the author should not; the reader yearns for him to fully embrace her and the character she is. The choices of the son are not always the best choices of the writer.
[I Will Be Complete] is an extraordinary book about growing up in California ... Gold’s childhood is much more than merely interesting; it is riveting in the way of stories of children raised in the wild ... There are passages that dazzle, passages that fall flat in intricately designed ways ... While life may be ruled by chance, memoirs are not, and Gold delivers a conclusion for the ages that involves a dramatic confrontation with a shadowy figure from his childhood. I Will Be Complete is an audacious, boundary-shattering work that will be talked about for a very long time.
The book’s driving force is the author’s relationship with his mother; the dynamic between them compels us through the story even as it increasingly repels the son ... Gold has a way with one-liners, and the self-deprecating humor is gratifying ... Some critics have complained that his novels can feel disjointed, aimless, and overstuffed, apt comments here as well ... Ultimately, the book asks us to consider a familiar pair of questions. First: At what point are addicts—and martyrs of all kinds—to blame for what befalls them? ... Second: At what point should their loved ones cut their losses and move on in order to rescue themselves? ... Gold’s memoir invites the jury of readers to judge him, asserting throughout the book that he no longer loves his mom, as if making the appeal, See how hard I tried? ... It’s a troubling quandary that Glen’s father escapes condemnation, not just by being the saner parent but simply by having left first. There’s something of a double standard at play as Glen tries to make sense of his childhood.
This riveting, sneakily emotional book—if it is to be accepted at page-value, and I believe that it is—is a brutally honest account of Gold’s upbringing at the hands of a troubled, unreliable mother and a distant, disinterested father ... Gold’s story is a uniquely awful one, but the experience of reading I Will Be Complete is anything but. The book unfolds like a novel—Gold’s previous two books, Sunnyside and the exceptional Carter Beats the Devil, are historical fiction based on real-life figures—and his first-person narrative is wry, funny, and refreshingly objective. We eventually learn why Gold chooses to describe his life so dispassionately, and his frankness is a much better alternative to the sort of goopy, overwrought confessional a book like this could have easily become.
Those admirers of Glen David Gold’s two novels, Sunnyside and Carter Beats the Devil, won’t be surprised to see that his memoir, I Will Be Complete, is a banquet of vivacity, shrewdness and wit, a soiree of heart-wreck wised up by humor. Nor will admirers be surprised by Gold’s welcome gusto as a stylist: His prose overall boasts an assertive, assured presence, unafraid of appealing directly to readers in the realization of its purpose.
[Gold's] clear desire for insightful retrospection—follow Gold throughout the book ... Gold delivers an engaging work of nonfiction that shows the author in a continuous battle to reconcile axioms with personal truths. As readers accompany him through his tumultuous relationships, unsuccessful jobs, or awkward interactions with his father, most will enjoy the ride ... A strong memoir that oozes with the excitement of a life well-lived—and well-analyzed.
The first page of Glen David Gold’s new memoir consists of a simple and surprising caveat: ‘My mother assures me none of this happened.’ The reader spends the rest of I Will Be Complete discovering just how illuminating this opening statement is … This...sneakily emotional book—if it is to be accepted at page-value, and I believe that it is—is a brutally honest account of Gold’s upbringing at the hands of a troubled, unreliable mother and a distant, disinterested father. Their marriage disintegrated when Glen was at an early age and his father’s fortunes evaporated.