" Onward toward What We’re Going Toward is a deeply tender, unflinchingly wry, and deftly written account of one man’s desire for deeper meaning... Combining the authorial style of Jeffrey Eugenides and Richard Russo with themes of loss, desperation, and reconnection, Onward toward What We’re Going Toward is sharp, elegant, and poignant."– Booklist
" Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward is part family drama, part cautionary tale, part story of America. With a bittersweetness that is both palpable and instructive, Bartelmay’s fine book will likely affirm one’s own desire to live beyond the cusp."– Foreword
"Ryan Bartelmay achieves something like intimate sweep in this funny, soulful novel about love, time, and hope. Go toward Onward Toward What We're Going Toward. "– Sam Lipsyte, author, The Fun Parts
"Ryan Bartelmay has written a sprawling, ambitious, great hearted novel about what comforts and kills us the most: family. A work of love and fear, secrets and cruelty, by a wonderful new writer."– Ben Marcus, author, The Flame Alphabet
“What a kind, warm hearted and generous novel! Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward is a splendid evocation of America’s heartland and the sometimes confused, lost, desperately seeking and often comic souls that populate it.”– Dinaw Mengestu, author, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears and How to Read the Air
Set over the last half of the twentieth century, Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward is the epic story of the decline and fall of an American family.
Postwar newlyweds Chic and Diane Waldbeeser are determined to carve out a life for themselves and their son, Lomax, in Middleville, Illinois, but when ten-year old Lomax dies, Chic and Diane take refuge in haiku poetry, doll collecting and the positive thinking of the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale as they try to make sense of their overwhelming grief and guilt. Paralleling their story is that of Chic’s older brother Buddy. Haunted by the suicide of their father, Buddy struggles to make a life with his exotic wife, Lijy—who is hiding a devastating secret of her own—while attempting to introduce the residents of Middleville to vegetarianism and Ayurveda massage, unusual endeavors in mid-century Middle America.
Coming headlong out of Las Vegas in the 1990s and bound for Peoria, Illinois, are Green Geneseo, a retired, widowed bank teller, and Mary Norwood, an aging pool hustler, looking for one last swing at the American Dream. The couple sideswipes the life of the now aged and widowed Chic, offering him one last chance to right a life that has been filled with sadness and tragedy.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Ryan Bartelmay graduated from the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Undergraduate Writer’s Workshop, before going to Columbia University, where he received an MFA in fiction writing. He won the Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers hosted by Boulevard, and his work has appeared in The Greensboro Review, Sycamore Review, Opium, Phoebe: A Journal of Arts and Letters, and The Believer, among others. He is currently the Dean of General Education at Kendall College in Chicago.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm kind of amazed that I in the end gave this book a 3 star rating because there were times when I thought that the book was a bit boring to read, mostly because sometimes I just couldn't see a point to the story really and also that I just couldn't really like the characters, well except Lomax, but he was not long for the world. But somehow, I liked the book, just because it was so odd. We get to follow Chic, both as a young man and as an old man in parallel storylines. So while we follow his life as a newlywed man we also get to know him as an old man in a retirement home. We also get to know his wife Diane, his brother Buddy and his wife Lijy and in later life we get to know Mary a woman that will play a new role in Chic's life. The story in this is sometimes just incredible weird and they make decisions that just seem stupid. lBut I still needed to find out what happens to the characters so I kept reading just to get answers to questions like will Chic ever be happy? What will happen to them all? It's like reading a soap opera. So in the end 3 stars, despite being a bit boring sometimes, despite lacking any really likeable characters (aww poor Lomax that he had to die so young). In the end this book is about ordinary slightly odd characters that makes decisions that sometimes seems completely stupid. Just like real people...