Child Of My Right Hand

Child Of My Right Hand

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by Eric Goodman
     
 

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The stunning third novel from acclaimed author Eric Goodman is the story of a middle class family: college professors Jack and Genna Barish and their two children, fourteen-year-old Lizzy and seventeen-year-old Simon. The four have just moved to Tipton, Ohio, a small town divided by bigotry and class tensions, when Simon announces to his family, and eventually

Overview

The stunning third novel from acclaimed author Eric Goodman is the story of a middle class family: college professors Jack and Genna Barish and their two children, fourteen-year-old Lizzy and seventeen-year-old Simon. The four have just moved to Tipton, Ohio, a small town divided by bigotry and class tensions, when Simon announces to his family, and eventually to the town, what his parents have long suspected-that he is gay.

As Jack and Genna struggle to deal with their son's sexuality, his oppressive, ever-present teenaged angst and the conflicts that are raised within their marriage, the complex dynamics of a family unfold: love, doubt, betrayal, and sympathy-all strikingly caught by the author. Equally vivid are the Tipton residents' spectrum of reactions to Simon, ranging from open acceptance to acts of violent rage. This is a beautifully written and complex work of fiction.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
When Simon Barish, 17, comes out of the closet, it's certainly no surprise to his parents, but he is harassed at school in the conservative midwestern town where he lives, and one day there's a cross burning in the yard. It turns out that Simon's mom's biological dad is gay-she's never contacted him-and the family trip to San Francisco to meet him and his long-term partner in the gay capital of the world is a turning point for everyone. Woven into the story is the scientific controversy about whether homosexuality is hereditary. Simon's dad is a scientist, and he's researching whether finding a gay gene would lead to more abortions. More gripping than the intellectual arguments is the honesty of the personal drama. Simon is wonderfully drawn, from his feelings of lust and romance through his rising excitement at landing the lead in the school musical.

Best of all are the family scenes, from mutual irritation to furious quarrel to soppy embrace. With heartbreaking honesty, Goodman shows that they love each other, even if each of them can be "a royal pain." — Hazel Rochman

Publishers Weekly
A gay adolescent boy's coming of age tests the social fabric of a small Midwestern town in Goodman's poignant fourth novel, inspired by his experience with his own son's sexuality. Simon Barish is the openly gay son of academics Genna and Jack, who relocate from Cincinnati to take teaching positions in Tipton, Ohio. The pervasive smalltown homophobia and looming threat of violence keep the couple and Simon's younger sister, Lizzie, constantly on edge, while Simon's sweet but raunchy efforts to find his first boyfriend could land him in jail if he picks the wrong would-be paramour. Compelling parental subplots emerge when Jack, a social scientist, abandons his study of Nazi eugenics to examine the role of heredity in gay children, and Genna embarks on a search for her birth father. The book's greatest strength is its character writing, with Goodman compassionately presenting Simon's erratic charms as well as the foibles of Genna and Jack, each of whom is well developed enough to carry the book. The entertaining cast of gay secondary figures who surface on a family trip to San Francisco balance the narrative, softening the overall tension. Though the near-tragic ending feels rushed and formulaic, Goodman eloquently addresses many of the cultural conflicts that help define American family life in the early 21st century. Agent, Michelle Tessler. (Oct.) Forecast: A vibrant, scrawly cover and a great blurb from T.C. Boyle should help this novel be noticed; the autobiographical subject matter could make Goodman an interesting interview prospect. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Third by Goodman (In Days of Awe, 1991, etc.) is a gay coming-of-ager that never quite matures. Simon is the son of college professors Genna and Jack Barish. His truculent but way cooler younger sister Lizzie, and Sam, the obstreperous BoBo trophy hound, round out a family that's perfectly normal in every way except-Simon is gay, and he's just come out while watching Father of the Bride with his parents. Recounted by Jack Barish in an extended flashback (a superfluous device at best), the story follows Simon from a performing arts academy in Cincinnati to a down-at-heels high school in the backwater town of Tipton, Ohio, site of his parents' university. There, Simon (a gentle soul in a linebacker's body, with an otherworldly basso voice) encounters the usual corridor cadre of homophobic bullies. Even in the impossibly rustic university town, though, Simon finds a few like-oriented classmates, such as fellow chorister Peter and trailer-trash hottie Rich. Meanwhile, Jack ricochets improbably between amazing sex with Genna and an affair that threatens to end his marriage for real this time. (The first affair only prompted Genna to drive aimlessly, like a Joan Didion heroine without LA freeways.) Jack's research project on the possibility of a "gay gene" ties in neatly with Genna's search for her biological father, who turns out to be gay and living in San Francisco. Mystery of Simon's seemingly unprecedented musicality and sexual orientation solved-although even macho-progenitor Jack does have his "bi' moment. Why Simon can't go live with his grandfather right away is anybody's guess, but, instead, our hero soldiers on in durance vile, triumphs in the school musical, and has a final,gratuitously catastrophic, encounter with the bullies. Certain elements-smoking-gun mash notes, for example-are left dangling. A melodramatic ending adds to the flaws in what's, still and all, a passably entertaining, fair-enough portrait of youthful awakening and middle-aged reckoning. Agent: Michelle Tessler/Carlisle and Company

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402203060
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
10/01/2004
Pages:
322
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Eric Goodman is the author of four previous novels: High on the Energy Bridge, The First Time I Saw Jenny Hall, and In Days of Awe. He has won several fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and directs the creative writing program at Miami University in Oxford, OH.

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Child Of My Right Hand 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am Ethan Goodman, Eric Goodmans Son, the one who this book is based upon. I have endured many things in my life, including the homophobs and coming out. My fathers book really portrays my life in many ways and makes me feel like I am staring a a mirror of my life. Even though some parts are fictional, and some are from real experiences, I can feel the pain and anguish that Simon must feel, for i encountered it on my own as well. Dad, i love you, and love your book. Thankyou for another great piece of art to add to this world. I love you.