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GOODBYE, GOODNESS is a sad but ultimately (sort of) triumphant story about the weight of personal history and the obligations of the present, about the relationships that construct our lives while simultaneously destroying them. Hayward is the great grandson of an eccentric baron of the gilded age named Finn, a man who built the first roads across the country, famous for their unearthly glow in the moonlight, the inventor of the first Sea World, an attraction that would showcase the cities of the future, and a lover of Annie Oakley, a character who deeply influenced our ideas of the American frontier. His massive legacy has ruled the generations after him and Hay's family has been alternating between ill-conceived plots to shore up the family fortune and great hemorrhages of waste and abandon, massive purchases quickly forgotten, drunken fishing trips and even drunker prep school reunions. The novel opens with Hay recovering from a concussion in a beach house that he has broken into, having obviously gone through hell but telling the reader nothing of how he's gotten there. In interconnecting flashbacks we see the story of his life; his early experiences with his father, his meeting at Yale of his friends Will and Kimmel, a post college romance in New York that turns into full time care-taking of an insane woman, and an eventual overtaking by alcoholism with a crash landing on the west coast. Exploring the past and the present of a deeply unconventional family and using episodes taken from Annie Oakley's actual diary, Brumbaugh illuminates the narrative of a life separated from normalcy.
Open City Books, 9781890447397, 277pp.
Publication Date: March 3, 2005