Goliath Gets Up (2011) – Starbuck O’Dwyer
I do enjoy a wide variety of books and after a handful of serious reads it is nice to pick up a book that offers some genuine laughs. I wasn’t sure what Goliath Gets Up would have to offer but I headed out to Rochester, New York, to find out what was going on.
The novel focuses on David Horvath who is pushing 40, has lost one of his two jobs and has come home to find his girlfriend cheating on him. After a less than pleasant break-up, David is left to reflect on his somewhat wasted life. His late mother used to refer to him as a dragon and had high hopes for him. Instead, David lives with his grandmother and spends his days drinking with his friends – Nubby and Big Nasty. David decides enough is enough. He wants to do something with his life but what?
Drowning his sorrows with his friends, David is in something of a rut with an unfulfilling life. He teaches tennis to a group of kids that are less than complimentary or disciplined and even his home life isn’t great. David is close to his grandmother but her partner Biff who is often in a bathrobe is a different matter. One day David is horrified to learn his grandmother has terminal cancer but this sad turn of events inspires David. His grandmother always wanted to go to the Academy Awards so David decides he will bring the Oscars from Los Angeles to Rochester! His friends Nubby and Big Nasty embrace the idea despite a previous preference for having less than subtle shaped buildings erected in Rochester.
The three friends are helped by Dixie who also reveals her father has been contracted to build Candee Land, a complex for gambling and prostitution, spearheaded by the hilarious Mayor Candee, and destroy the scenic High Falls in the process. After pitching the idea of the Oscars in Rochester to the mayor, David is horrified when it is dismissed then stolen by the mayor! Dixie wants her friends to help destroy her father’s business but instead they form QWEAFS to protest about the development of the High Falls. What follows is both a tragic and hilarious series of confrontations as Mayor Candee does everything in her power to disgrace and stop David and his protesters, especially when they vow to go over the falls to a likely certain death come November!
Goliath Gets Up reminded me of Steve Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole. It is hilarious with some fantastic characters. David is a great protagonist but many of the laughs belong to Mayor Candee who is obsessed with gambling and prostitution and believes a famous suffragette from Rochester is one of Charlie’s Angels. The hapless Nubby and the poetic Big Nasty with a love of Maya Angelou are simply wonderful. The build up to the protesters going over the High Falls is fantastic and the ending is completely apt as well.
I have no complaints with Goliath Gets Up. It’s very funny throughout, has some great characters and conflicts and should raise a smile with many readers. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish.
(Book source: reviewer received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review)