Gone So Long is a simmering, haunted, beauty of a novel. It’s not flashy but it gleams with quiet brilliance and raw power. Barely out of their teens, Danny kills his wife in a fit of jealousy, an act that will resonate through the decades for the survivors; Danny, his three-year-old daughter Suzie, and her grandmother Lois. Like the ocean washing along the sandy carnival strip of the book’s setting, Dubus’ writing is evocative almost of a force of nature, but with an undertone of humility that somehow serves to reinforce its potency: “because blood-pumping life was always more real and insistent than mere words.” Maybe so, but Gone So Long comes pretty damn close. I loved it.
Few writers can enter their characters so completely or evoke their lives as viscerally as Andre Dubus III. In this deeply compelling new novel, a father, estranged for the worst of reasons, is driven to seek out the daughter he has not seen in decades.
Daniel Ahearn lives a quiet, solitary existence in a seaside New England town. Forty years ago, following a shocking act of impulsive violence on his part, his daughter, Susan, was ripped from his arms by police. Now in her forties, Susan still suffers from the trauma of a night she doesn't remember, as she struggles to feel settled, to love a man and create something that lasts. Lois, her maternal grandmother who raised her, tries to find peace in her antique shop in a quaint Florida town but cannot escape her own anger, bitterness, and fear.
Cathartic, affirming, and steeped in the empathy and precise observations of character for which Dubus is celebrated, Gone So Long explores how the wounds of the past afflict the people we become, and probes the limits of recovery and absolution.