Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Gob's Grief by Chris Adrian

Gob's Grief

by Chris Adrian

Gob's Grief by Chris Adrian X
Gob's Grief by Chris Adrian
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 384 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2002, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Both convincing in its portrayal of the collective madness America went through after the carnage of the Civil War, and otherworldly in its contemplation of obsessive grief and longing, Gob's Grief is at once an announcement of a major talent, and an extraordinary achievement in literary art.

The literary debut of an electrifying talent that gives the historical novel an exhilarating dose of originality, style, and visionary energy.

Gob's Grief recounts the lives of Gob and Tomo Woodhull, fictional twin sons of the real Victoria Woodhull, the nineteenth-century proto-feminist. In August of 1863, Tomo, who is eleven years old, runs off to the Civil War and dies in his first battle. Gob grows up in a profound state of grief, and by the time that he's an adult studying to be a doctor in New York City, he has begun to make real a dream to build a machine that might bring Tomo - indeed, all the war dead - back to life.

As Gob's obsessions deepen, we are taken from the battlefields at Chickamauga Creek to the society balls of New York, from innocent childhoods in Homer, Ohio, to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge; and as the machine grows, so does the amazing cast of real and imagined characters: Walt Whitman, ministering lovingly to the Civil War wounded; Mrs. Woodhull and her sister Tennessee, doing business on Wall Street and riding churning tides of scandal; Gob's friend Will Fie, a war veteran who builds a house from glass images of suffering and death; Maci Trufant, Victoria Woodhull's protege and Gob's great love; and even unnatural Pickie Beecher, a child who seems to float sinisterly between the living and the dead. These disparate lives come together in support of Gob's endeavor, but the abolition of death and the success of his machine may come at a price more hideous and awful than any of them can know.

Both convincing in its portrayal of the collective madness America went through after the carnage of the Civil War, and otherworldly in its contemplation of obsessive grief and longing, Gob's Grief is at once an announcement of a major talent, and an extraordinary achievement in literary art.

1

Walt dreamed his brother's death at Fredericksburg. General Burnside, appearing as an angel at the foot of his bed, announced the tragedy: "The army regrets to inform you that your brother, George Washington Whitman, was shot in the head by a lewd fellow from Charleston." The general alit on the bedpost and drew his dark wings close about him, as if to console himself. Moonlight limned his strange whiskers and his hair. Burnside's voice shook as he went on. "Such a beautiful boy. I held him in my arms while his life bled out. See? His blood made this spot." He pointed at his breast, where a dark stain in the shape of a bird lay on the blue wool. "I am so very sorry," the General said, choking and weeping. Tears fell in streams from his eyes, ran over the bed and out the window, where they joined the Rappahannock, which had somehow come north to flow through Brooklyn, bearing the bodies of all the late battle's dead.

In the morning Walt read the wounded list in the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

About This Guide

The introduction, discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of Chris Adrian's Gob's Grief--an intimate portrait of individual human suffering and an unusual history of the American physical and social landscape scarred by the Civil War. In this eerie and brilliant debut novel a fascinating cast of both real and fictional characters is assembled who all share one common trait: grief for brethren who were lost in the bloodiest war fought on United States soil. And from this context emerges one tortured soul whose despair grows into a maniacal obsession with resurrecting the dead.

About This Book

...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Time Out, New York - John Freeman
A soulful, searching literary debut...Unlike many first time novelists, Adrian takes great risks here. He brings to life scores of historical figures, from Walt Whitman to Abe Lincoln, with a startling ease and grace. More remarkable, however, is his ability to inspire sympathy for—even faith in—Gob's mission. It is a testament to Adrian's powers as a writer that we finish this story crushed anew by the knowledge that we can never truly revive our lost ones.

Publisher's Weekly
Much like Gob's creation, the novel is a collection of fabulous parts in need of a heart to power them, yet impressing as a flight of fancy. FYI Every Night for a Thousand Years, the New Yorker story from which this novel stemmed, was anthologized in Best American Short Stories 1998.

Reader Reviews

Karen Corcoran Dabkowski

One of my favorite books of all time. Chris Adrian uses nothing less than genius in making the characters of history 'breathe' in ways that make it hard to leave them at the end of this book.

His wonderful blending of history and the fantastical is...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Gob's Grief, try these:

  • Blue Asylum jacket

    Blue Asylum

    by Kathy Hepinstall

    Published 2013

    About this book

    More by this author

    In the midst of the American Civil War, a southern plantation owner's wife is arrested by her husband and declared insane for interfering with his slaves. She is sent to an island mental asylum to come to terms with her wrongdoing, but instead finds love and escape with a war-haunted Confederate soldier.

  • The March jacket

    The March

    by E.L. Doctorow

    Published 2006

    About this book

    More by this author

    Stunningly renders the countless lives swept up in the violence of a country at war with itself. The "Great March" in E. L. Doctorow's hands becomes something more – a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.

We have 6 read-alikes for Gob's Grief, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Chris Adrian
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Sicilian Inheritance
    The Sicilian Inheritance
    by Jo Piazza
    Sara Marsala is going through a rough patch, to say the least. In the process of divorcing from her ...
  • Book Jacket: The Light Eaters
    The Light Eaters
    by Zoë Schlanger
    The human race is completely dependent on plants. Many people, however, give little thought to ...
  • Book Jacket: Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    by J Drew Lanham
    As a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant, and a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master ...
  • Book Jacket: Glorious Exploits
    Glorious Exploits
    by Ferdia Lennon
    Lampo and Gelon are two unemployed potters in their thirties whose lives are spent between their ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Long After We Are Gone
by Terah Shelton Harris
After their father's death, four siblings rally to save their family home in this gripping and hopeful tale.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stolen Child
    by Ann Hood

    An unlikely duo ventures through France and Italy to solve the mystery of a child’s fate.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.