[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.