Saturday, November 5, 2005

The Road to Wellville by T. Coraghessan Boyle

I want to read more Boyle. What better thing can be said about a writer? The subject matter doesn’t matter. Just as long as he wrote it. The prose is that good. This one, like all the others I’ve read, is about two people whose lives intersect and connect in strange and entertaining ways.

Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment who lets his wife bring him to the famed health spa run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan. There he is scrubbed inside and out by special concoctions and enemas, falls in love with his nurse, and watches his wife drift off into the clutches of Dr. Spitzvogel, the quack womb manipulator.

Charlie Ossining is a young man come to Battle Creek to make a fortune in the new cereal business, partnered with a con man named Bender who leaves town with all their investors’ money and sticks Charlie with the bill for the high life he had been living.

On one level, the book is very much about con men, the knowing and the unknowing, and the suckers they attract, and how they are all happy as punch until they realize the stuff they’ve been buying is a whole lot of nothing. Shares in a non-existent cereal company or adherence to the latest healthy living fad, Boyle seems to be saying it doesn’t much matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment