This Way Madness Lies

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9780446363907: This Way Madness Lies
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While old man Winslow hovers near death, the Winslow clan--including two failed actresses, a Beverly Hills baby doctor, and a cocaine cowboy--gathers at Winslow's Far Hills mansion for a reunion. Reprint.

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About the Author:

I come from a large, complex, and thoroughly dysfunctional family. It makes perfect sense my first novel would use as its driving force the very subject I knew the most about. I am the youngest sibling in my family, four years younger than my next oldest brother. A mistake, no doubt, from those days when the Pill was in its infancy. But it meant in my formative years I had my mama all to myself, and a father who had by that time mellowed considerably. I often find it remarkable my oldest siblings and I are talking about the same person when we reminisce about Wild Bill Simpson. They conjure up a monster just returned from the war, tough and uncompromising. I recall a pretty easy going guy who coached my teams and took me on a lot of weekend adventures to Civil War battlefields and other historical sites. Unquestionably, from my low perch I had a unique perspective. For me it was mostly one of wonder and amusement, two qualities that have diminished but little. As a kid I loved to watch by siblings battle with one another and with our father. That was the 60s, the high water mark of the hippie era and the great generation gap. Nightly at our dinner table there were boisterous arguments about the Vietnam War, civil rights, women’s rights, rock and roll, drugs, sports, everything under the sun. It was some education, far more potent, and useful (at least for a budding author) than the mostly tedious and predictable one I received at our local public school. Family. It’s where the whole crazy quilt of Life begins. I believe in taking a good, hard, honest look at your family, and particularly your individual place in that family. It’s where the truth lies. And often where the madness lies. This Way Madness Lies. King Lear, likely suffering from dementia, on the brink of mental and emotional collapse, implores his daughters, “Do not go that way, for that way madness lies!” A first novel is like a first child, and if you are lucky enough to have a child you know precisely what I mean. This Way Madness Lies is my first novel. I was a young, arrogant, ambitious guy when I wrote it. Full of the proverbial piss and vinegar. Teeming with self confidence. In awe of nothing but my own place in the world. I recently read the book over for the first time in years. It’s flawed, as was I, but still it’s a hell of a good story, brimming with energy and creativity. Give it a try. I’m sure if you come from a dysfunctional family—and who doesn’t?—you’ll enjoy the ride.

From Kirkus Reviews:

First-novelist Simpson uses here the fictional Dear Reader confidential asides, popular a century or two ago and revived by the English satirical novelist Fay Weldon. Weldon, however, grinds some social axes, while Simpson is content to spin a pleasant, popular family-dynasty tale with a Just Deserts close. The story takes place here and there, now and then, but mainly in contemporary New Jersey during a week in June. William ``Wild Bill'' Winslow, 70--indifferent patriarch, tyrant, and a bust as a father--has just taken a header down the stairs in his Far Hills, N.J., ancestral mansion. Now, hospital- bound, he directs young Evangeline--sort of a housekeeper, his lover, and the mother of his two young boys--to gather his eight adult children and even his rotten second wife, Bettina the Greedy. Among the offspring: two failed actresses who wanted to make Daddy's dream of siring a Shakespearean actress come true; a fire- station worker who took the identity of his identical twin, killed in Vietnam; a drug-and-sex hotshot in Aspen; an artist who never found his medium; an unstable son, rapidly going crackers, who's out with a gun in the woods; and a quiet lass living in England who has conversations with ghostly ancestors in New Jersey and the Old Country. We also learn about tragedies in Wild Bill's life and hear the story of his grandfather, Crazy Legs. Most of the children are married, some have offspring--and all gather at Far Hills. Before the hug-all close, there'll be a fire, some scary sighting of the son-with-the-gun, and sibling rebonding. There's nothing too unusual or wild about Wild Bill (the rich, macho, roaring elder is a popular staple), but the tales of the children as they pop up here, one by one, are mildly diverting, and the confidential asides offer some variety. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9781542934893: This Way Madness Lies

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