Brady Udall is the acclaimed author of the internationally best-selling The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. In The Lonely Polygamist, Udall pens a tragicomic tale starring Golden Richards - who, despite having four wives and 28 children, hasn’t quite found fulfillment in life.
Like other men in the midst of a mid-life crisis, Golden feels as though he’s drowning. His wives squabble amongst themselves, and he hardly has time for all his children - least of all the 11-year-old who’s taken a keen interest in explosives. And now his construction business is struggling. Yet even after Golden falls in love again and takes a mistress to alleviate his pain, life continues to fall short of expectations.
Udall’s skillfully observed tale is “as comic as it is sublimely catastrophic.” (Publishers Weekly).
©2010 Brady Udall (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
“One of the best novels I’ve read in a while . . . Golden Richards, middle-aged, 6-foot-6 polygamist with an overbite, is one of the most appealing, original, and brilliantly tragicomic protagonists to appear in American fiction in some time.” (Newsday)
“A wry, sympathetic portrait of a spectacularly dysfunctional family.” (The New Yorker)
“A thick, transporting, critically hailed novel from which you emerge, blinking but sated, into the real world.” (Miami Herald)
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
I was reticent to read this book after all the media hype & reviews, but delighted I did. Many layers of personality conflict, background, beliefs fit together well to keep you thinking over the seemingly simple events long after you have pressed pause. This author had several plotlines seamlessly weaving together to an explosive, fulfilling ending. It is subtly witty and gives cause for contemplation. The title actually sums up the story. Enjoyed this author's style immensely.
I enjoyed the main character, the Dad because I could feel his uneasiness to please and desire to want a few minutes alone. He was so patient, kind, and wanted to do the right thing. I admired him. Also liked the son's storyline. I also connected with his isolation and sadness at the hands of bullying. His desire for his "other mother" was sweet and sad and entertaining.
I liked the part where the main character found the chewing gum...if you listen, you'll know what I mean. It was so simple and funny, but the underlying meaning was fantastic.
The end of the story was fantastic. The plotlines tied together smoothly reaching conclusion. This author knows how to write a superb ending.
I bought this book on the recommendation of Audible and I'm glad I did. I have rarely read a book that made me wonder how an author could come up with that idea; that phrase; that description - all of which combined thrust me into the world of Golden Richards, one of the most confused people I have ever met. Udall takes us through his life and trials from Golden's childhood up until middle age all the while wondering, "Am I supposed to like him or not." And that's part of the point. No one in the book can really decide that either. The writing is brilliant, stunning and absolutely unique. There are moments of such humor that I laughed out loud even while alone. There are also scenes of such sorrow that I also cried because I felt every moment of pain. I suppose it can be called a dark comedy, but that phrase really doesn't describe the breath of material which simply exposes life as it is - at least as it is for Golden, his four wives and 28 children, the names of whom are a mantra for him.
We stick with Golden as he floats from moment to moment, almost always a victim of the circumstance he finds himself. We try to cut him a break as we try to understand why he doesn't "get it" but he rarely satisfies our wish. We sidle up to his wives and cheer them on as they try to come to the same understanding. However, we don't really side with them because they are just mean and that is one thing Golden is not. We want to love all the children, but we can't really bridge that gap, except for two. The small strokes of genius subplots that carry through all the way to the end of the book are masterful and remind us that even in the throes of life,there are little things that viewed from a distance are hilarious even as they simultaneously drive us batty.
We meet Rusty, the neglected son and while we end up hoping he gets what he so ardently desires, we wish he would go about it much differently. We want to shake the entire family for failing him on so many levels. And we are amazed at how Udall nails the kid dialogue and thought process.
David Aaron Baker reads this so well that there are times you are certain there is more than one reader. He has a talent to read many voices all distinctly.
The plot twists and turns and keeps us engaged but does so in a very precise, deliberate way. I cannot say it is a comedy. I cannot say it is a drama. I cannot say it is a tragedy. It is life, fairly and justly represented in all of its glory and frustration, polygamist notwithstanding. It is us. It is no surprise to me that Udall is the writer-in-residence in Idaho.
This is a beautifully written book with dynamic, deeply human characters; although you might expect the story to focus on the protagonist, Golden, Udall invites us to understand them all (even the monogamists) as "the lonely polygamist." We end up empathizing with even the most seemingly unsympathetic characters, and Udall's portrayal of the world from eleven-year old Rusty's point of view is more powerful than any child-narration I can remember reading. The narration is excellent. Baker gives each character a lovely nuanced depth that supplements the writing and allows you to hear it as I imagine the author would want it to be heard.
I am struck by this book's sensitive and touching portrayal of a taboo and largely villanized lifestyle, without romanticizing or apologizing for it. I do not condone polygamy, but Udall's story has opened my eyes to the particular struggles of polygamists, humanizing them in ways I did not know possible. What is the purpose of literature if it is not to invite us to see each other anew? In this book we have a bit of Nabokov, to be sure.
The Lonely Polygamist is as entertaining as it is literary. If it has not already joined the annals of contemporary American classics, it should.
I am a native of the state in which this book is set and Udall captures perfectly the strangeness and complexity of polygamy. Richly written bringing you very close to all of the key characters. They may seem somewhat outrageous to people that arent familiar with the Mormon religion and it's polygamist offshoots but in my view is spot on! Well narrarated and one of the better books that I have listened to. Well done Mr. Udall!
I loved this book-probably one of my all time favorites. For whatever reason, I have listened to many of the polygamist themed books (The 19th Wife, Under the Banner of Heaven) and this is far and away the best. It is an affectionate look at a family, while unconventional, completely human and flawed, but not evil. Moving and emotional.
I read a great review of the book when it came out and couldn't wait for the Audio version. I was
not disappointed. This is an in-depth character study of the main character and his wives. It
takes its time telling the story, but I couldn't put it down. I loved the narration and am looking
forward to listening to other books by David Baker. Women may like this book better than
I thought this was well written and well read. It wasn't as I expected at all. It was odd to feel such sympathy for a man who practices polygamy which I think goes to show how well written it was. I loved how the story from told by different characters. There were some interesting twists and turns. It is a great book, a terrific summer holiday read.
Almost perfect except for his pronunciation of "nuclear" as "nucular." Mysteriously, he fixed his pronunciation at some point.
I'm only half way done with this book (I guess I didn't realize it was 23 hours long when I bought it). It's truly excellent. When I'm not listening to it, I miss it. The story telling is just really good and it's humorous, sad, it just has everything. Just so you know, I usually like zombie/apocalypse/mysteries. This is definitely none of those (not really sure what it is...self-awakening?). I readily recommend this book to anyone.
This was one of the best books I've listened to in a long time. I laughed so hard, but cried also. I usually don't laugh out loud while listening to a book. I really enjoyed listening to the narrator. Looking forward to listening to Brady's Edgar Mint book next.
This is a very funny, heartbreaking novel. I thought the character development of the protagonist was good and the narrator fabulous. It's a great listen and found myself laughing out loud at some of the situations that come about having 4 wives and 29 children.
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