Jerene Jarvis Johnston and her husband Duke are exemplars of Charlotte, North Carolina's high society, a world where old Southern money and the secrets behind it meet the new wealth of bankers, real estate speculators, and carpetbagging social climbers. Steely and implacable, Jerene presides over her family's legacy of paintings at the Mint Museum; Duke, the one-time college golden boy and descendant of a Confederate general, whose promising political career was mysteriously short-circuited, has settled into a comfortable semi-senescence as a Civil War re-enactor.
Jerene's brother Gaston is an infamously dissolute bestselling historical novelist who has never managed to begin his long-dreamed-of masterpiece, and their sister Dillard's unfortunate life decisions and losses have rendered her a near-recluse.
As the four Johnston children - smart but reckless Annie, good-boy minister Bo, might be gay but that's okay Joshua, and damaged, dangerous Jerilyn - flounder in their adult lives, Jerene must take action to preserve the family's legacy, Duke's fragile honor, and what's left of the dwindling family fortune. She will stop at nothing to keep what she has - is it too much to ask for one ounce of cooperation from her heedless family?
In Lookaway, Lookaway, Wilton Barnhardt has written a full-bore, headlong, hilarious narrative of a family coming apart, a society changing beyond recognition, and an unforgettable woman striving to pull it all together.
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"North Carolina native Barnhardt's frothy, satirical latest is Southern gothic at its most decadent and dysfunctional." - Publishers Weekly
"From abortion to alcoholism, bankruptcy to bacchanalia, Barnhardt's satirical scorching of southern culture comes in second only to Sherman's fiery march." - Booklist
"Fans of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections will appreciate this satisfying, multigenerational tale. A fresh take on the family saga told with both Southern charm and pathos." - Library Journal
"Move over, Tom Wolfe! Writing with brilliance and brio, Barnhardt has penned a hilarious satire which often has surprising depth and hits way too close to the truth." - Lee Smith
"Lookaway, Lookaway is a wild romp through the South, and therefore the history of our nation, written by an absolute ringmaster of fiction. Wilton Barnhardt is back baby, and he's coming at you with everything he's got. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!" - Alice Sebold, New York Times bestselling author of The Lovely Bones
"Move over, Tom Wolfe! There's a new guy in town with the ultimate - no, make that penultimate - take on the New South. Better take a powder, pour a big gin, and put your feet up before you start reading. Writing with brilliance and brio, Wilton Barnhardt has penned a hilarious satire which often has surprising depth and hits way too close to the truth." - Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Oral History and The Last Girls
"This is a raucous novel, bursting with noise and color, immensely and immediately entertaining. And yet it's impossible not to realize how very, very smart it is. Wilton Barnhardt is a masterful storyteller, and Lookaway, Lookaway is high comedy at its brilliant best." - Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama and Backseat Saints
"Wilton Barnhardt has written the big Southern novel I've been wanting to read all my life. I can't think of a book that better expresses the complexity of exactly where our Southern culture is right now. His insights into his characters - both male and female - are rich and genuinely hilarious, expressed with a dangerous level of humor and pain. Lookaway, Lookaway is entirely remarkable. I finished reading it and started again on page one to see how he did it. (I still don't know.)" - Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama and Georgia Bottoms
"Wilton Barnhardt's Lookaway, Lookaway is our best 21st Century update so far of Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now. This literary romp is a new South vision with a ferocious vengeance, a heady stew of debutantes, Internet dating, Confederate War reenactors, real estate scandals, and Garden & Gun mores. Wicked family secrets are stirred in with antebellum lore and the Obama-era politics of race, gender and sex, all showing us, truly and newly, a Global Dixie." - Randall Kenan, author of The Fire This Time, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, and A Visitation of Spirits
"A fresh and innovative take on the traditional family saga ... the new Barnhardt goes down smooth and delivers with with a kick." - Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"Lookaway, Lookaway is an often humorous, sometimes unsettling, ultimately poignant romp through a "New" South still reluctant to let go of its past. Barnhardt's novel earns a place on the bookshelf between J.K. Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces and Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons."- Ron Rash, author of Serena
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Wilton Barnhardt is the author of three previous novels: Emma Who Saved My Life, Gospel, and Show World. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he is the director of the Masters in Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he lives.
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