Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

For my money, Brady Udall (The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint ) is among the most entertaining novelists writing about the Southwest. In his latest outing, Udall chronicles the life and dysfunctional times of Golden Richards, the book's eponymous polygamist, who has 4 wives and 28 children but is, nonetheless, infatuated with the wife of his violent and unpredictable boss.

In addition to being lonely, Golden is also an accidental polygamist. From his earliest days as the child of equally dysfunctional parents, his life has been a series of events directed by personalities more dominant than his. This is how he finds himself with plural wives, a family so large that the simple act of remembering the names of his children challenges him, and a contract to build a brothel that he must misrepresent to his family and Mormon neighbors as a senior citizen center.

But don't let his indecisiveness turn you off: Golden is big, endearing, and well-meaning, and you will love him for his determination to do the right thing. The book is populated by a cast of unforgettable characters, including youthful Trish, yearning for a life larger than the one allotted to her as wife #4, and Rusty, Golden's adolescent son, whose response to the cancellation of his long-awaited birthday has shattering results. By turns heart-breaking and hilariously funny, this is a hefty read at 602 pages, but well worth the time.


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