Monday, September 10, 2012


    Although we do not know this immediately listeners do discover in time that the voice of this powerful novel, the narrator of the story is also one of the book’s characters and is telling his story some 60 years later.  With that in mind I give special note to voice performer Norman Dietz who delivers a markedly fine reading, appearing to easily convey thoughts as well as words throught his voice.  This is a story filledwith the full range of human emotions and Dietz conveys all of them ably.  Thoroughly enjoyable listening!

    Beautifully written, touching and honest Robert Goolrick’s second novel portrays a time, a place and love.  This author has that rare ability to handle major subjects delicately, if you will, leaving listeners aware not only of his themes but of the power of his words. 

    Although set in Brownsburg, Virginia during the 1940s Heading Out To Wonderful is a timeless story, one that resonates long after we have heard the last words.   Brownsburg is a small valley town, perhaps 500 people and infested with pettiness.  When a stranger, Charlie Beale, appears it is noted immediately.  Strangers don’t often come to this valley town, especially not one carrying only two suitcases, one holding a great deal of money and the other all that he owns, which includes a set of German made butcher knives.  Charlie is looking for something, he isn’t quite sure what but thinks he may have found it in Brownsburg.  It is a town where the people “belonged to the land, to this particular place, the way their cars or their tablespoons belonged to them.”  And the folks were religious, sometimes taught to be judgmental, harsh as we later learn.

    Charlie soon finds work at the local butcher shop run by Will Haislett.  Here he is accepted for his professionalism and courtesy.  Will’s young son, Sam, and Charlie become good friends.  Sam accompanies him on meat buying trips, spends time with im in the country, and admires Charlie’s prowess on a baseball field.

    As it turns out Charlie does find what he wants in this small valley town and her name is Sylvan.  She beautiful and childlike,  married to the town’s richest man, a fat bully who bought her from her father for land and a tractor.  Sylvan is a young woman with dreams, most of which were born while watching movies or thumbing through movie magazines.

    What ensues is initially not surprising but soon shocking and heartrending.  Robert Goolrick has fashioned a powerful, haunting story, and the narration of Norman Dietz adds luster to it.

    - Gail Cooke

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