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The War for Gloria
Cover of The War for Gloria
The War for Gloria
A novel
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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • This “deeply immersive novel” (The Washington Post) from the author of the award–winning Preparation for the Next Life is an...
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • This “deeply immersive novel” (The Washington Post) from the author of the award–winning Preparation for the Next Life is an...
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  • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • This “deeply immersive novel” (The Washington Post) from the author of the award–winning Preparation for the Next Life is an “epic coming-of-age tale filled with pain, heartache, fear, and undying love” (The Associated Press), as a young man’s yearning to protect his dying mother requires him to risk destroying his estranged, enigmatic, powerful father.
     
    “From its hypnotic opening pages, we find ourselves in the sure hands of a roaming omniscient narrator, one who knows intimately the beating hearts of its two central characters” —Andre Dubus III, The New York Times Book Review
    Corey Goltz grows up in the working-class outskirts of Boston as the only child of Gloria, whose ambitions were derailed early but who has always given her son everything she can. Corey, restless, dreams of leaving home for a great adventure.
     
    Instead, when he is fifteen, the world comes crashing down upon him, when Gloria is diagnosed with ALS and, too late, his estranged father, Leonard—a man of great charisma but dubious moral character—reenters the picture. Determined to be his mother’s hero at any cost, Corey begins shouldering responsibility for her expensive medical care, pushing himself to his physical and emotional limits as her disease cruelly progresses. And as Leonard’s influence over Corey grows, Corey must dismantle the myth of his father’s genius and confront the evil that lurks beneath it.
     
    Gritty, visceral, and profoundly stirring, The War for Gloria tells the story of a young man, straddling childhood and adulthood, whose yearning to protect his mother requires him to risk destroying his father. An indelible work from a strikingly original voice in American fiction.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover 1

    Woman, Earth, Sun and Richard Feynman

    You never think about nerves and breathing. You take breathing for granted. You take the nerves under your skin or under the skin of another animal for granted.

    His mother loved him. Gloria said, “You make me laugh.” He had a sense of humor about their lives, apparently. She was a single mother and he helped her collect her library off the streets of Boston and never complained about it. They went through crates of books together and shared what they found. Her boy was never bored, even living in her car.

    She came from Springfield, which she called her shitty little city. She had come to Boston to go to college. She wanted to stand on the shoulders of Germaine Greer, the author of Sex and Destiny. She gave birth to Corey at Mass General during what should have been her final year of college.

    She crashed in Cleveland Circle, Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill—just her and her son—and her ever-changing roommates. For a time, they stayed at a triple-decker house in Dorchester and he went to a school where a good half the other kids were from the Cape Verde islands. Corey showed his mom the islands on the map, Boa Vista and Santiago off the coast of Senegal, telling her that he’d be sailing here someday when he grew up and went to sea.

    He had learned about the concept of a vessel from living in his mother’s car. He had fastened on the concept early. Maybe it was always in his head, one of the basic concepts he was born with—woman, earth, sun, boat.

    Her full name was Gloria Goltz. In his mind, she was always a bright blonde. He saw her as having a glass jaw that she kept putting up and it kept getting cracked. But when it came to him, she was stalwart. Once, she took him to a KFC and the manager didn’t want to give her another biscuit with her order, but she demanded it because Corey loved biscuits—he had read that sailors ate hardtack and salt pork—and the manager, with his thin arms and striped shirt, relented.

    “Mom, you’re always giving me things.”

    “You never ask for anything.”

    Gloria and Corey cut the biscuits on their brown plastic tray and had them with butter and honey.

    “Will you mind it when I become a sailor?”

    “Oh no. But I want you to be a smart sailor. I don’t want you to be dumb.”

    “But will you mind it when I have to leave home?”

    “I’ll have to accept it.”

    “I’ll come back and visit. Voyages usually take about three years. Whaling voyages can take seven.”

    There was a pattern between them of her getting blue and of him helping her. She got blue because of herself. She had not fulfilled the ambition she’d had at seventeen, smoking a cigarette in front of her concrete dorm building at Lesley College in the shadow of Harvard—in the literal shadow of its tombstone-shaped ivy-covered law library—to think and write and shock the world, to condemn it, to synthesize all the available evidence—art, history, movies, negative images and messages in the media, her upbringing, her body in the mirror, her own thoughts, even the smallest things down to the cigarette in her mouth—into a single scream of rage against the patriarchy. Instead she’d been a waitress, a barmaid taking bottles off a counter after the bar was closed and the band was unplugging its amps and it was too late to do anything but sleep the next day away. And this had gone on for years—years of telling herself that she was finding her voice, that she was getting...

About the Author-

  • ATTICUS LISH is the author of Preparation for the Next Life, which won the 2015 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the 2016 Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 26, 2021
    PEN/Faulkner Award winner Lish (Preparation for the Next Life) returns with an unflinching and heartbreaking story of a teenage boy taking care of his terminally ill mother while contending with his biological father. Gloria Goltz, an aspiring feminist writer, meets Leonard Agoglia in the mid-1990s while at college in Cambridge. He’s a condescending autodidact some two decades older who works security at MIT. She raises Corey by herself in various parts of Boston; sometimes Leonard comes over to play chess. His claim that he witnessed someone murder a woman makes Gloria’s lover, Joan, suspect him of foul play. During Corey’s sophomore year, Gloria moves them to Quincy, Mass., and is devastated by her diagnosis of ALS. Corey casts around for surrogate father figures with mixed results. There’s Tom Hibbard, a “tin knocker” who helps Corey land construction jobs and whose college-bound daughter, Molly, inspires him to give up street fights; Adrian Reinhardt, a physics-obsessed kid from Cambridge who wears a steel cup at all times out of fear of being castrated; and Eddie, an encouraging MMA coach who doesn’t have time for Corey’s personal problems. With Gloria’s condition worsening, Leonard is back in the picture, but he’s not much use. The tension slowly burns with Leonard’s odious presence on the family futon, and it intensifies as Leonard and Adrian strike up a dangerous friendship during Adrian’s first year at MIT. Lish imbues the male characters’ varied pitches of toxic masculinity with great sadness, smoothing the edges off their macho posturing, and he writes with devastating empathy of Gloria’s highs and lows. (After a painful fall, she tells Corey, “I tried to jump one last time.”) This is a tremendous achievement. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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