From the author of House of Sand and Fog, a novel about an ailing ex-convict in his 60s who pays a visit to the daughter he hasn't seen since the night he murdered her mother in a moment of jealous madness in 1973.
Dubus evokes a dazzling palette of emotions as he skillfully unpacks the psychological tensions between remorse and guilt, fear and forgiveness, anger and love. Susan, Daniel, and Lois are fully realized and authentic characters who live with pain and heartache while struggling to fill the tremendous void created by the tragedy. Heartrending yet unsentimental, this powerful testament to the human spirit asks what it means to atone for the unforgivable and to empathize with the broken.
These are hard things to write about and Dubus asks difficult questions. What do you do with a man who has done what Daniel Ahearn has done? How do you sympathize with him? Dubus does a good job of making Daniel’s self-justifications seem simultaneously plausible and crazy ... Dubus writes well about class—not so much the clash between different ends of the social ladder as the internal conflict that determines whether someone will rise or fall. His characters usually have a foot on two rungs. They’re going up or down. What drives Dubus’s storytelling is the urge to find out which way they’ll turn.
Full of ghosts and regrets and glimmering shards of excavated memory, Gone So Long is about destruction and redemption and the stupid, stubborn way people have of squandering love ... This novel is an ensemble piece, each chapter told from the point of view of a different principal ... Inadvisably large swaths of the book consist of Susan’s own strained writing, as when she recalls an abortion she had as an undergraduate... When she falls asleep naked with a female roommate ('We had no air conditioner'), there’s more than a whiff of Penthouse Letters to what happens next. Even then, weirdly, Susan is hungry for the male gaze. And yet the novel otherwise works, its last 100 or so pages whipping by in a series of crises and near misses and realizations that the healing we so want for these broken people might not come for all of them.