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Paperback Going Native Book

ISBN: 140007942X

ISBN13: 9781400079421

Going Native

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Book Overview

Going Native is Stephen Wright's darkly comic take on the road novel, in which one man's headlong escape from the American Dream becomes everybody's worst nightmare. Wylie Jones is set: lovely wife, beautiful kids, barbecues in the backyard of his tastefully decorated suburban Chicago house with good friends. Set, but not satisfied. So one night he just walks out, gets behind the wheel of a neighbor's emerald-green Galaxy 500, and drives off into...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A Diabolic Picaresque, A Pilgrim's Progress, A Dance of Death

"So I think that under this kind of vast superstructure of civilization is all this other stuff. And I suppose looking at it biologically there is that reptilian brain that the whole cortex sits on top of. It's just there. And it's part of our heritage and its inescapable and the fact that it is inescapable leads to some disturbing conclusions about what it is we're made of. I think that question is what the book's about. In that sense I think that Going Native means having these more primal desires and impulses just rise up and seize hold of you." so says Stephen Wright.. Stephen Wright believes that everyone is capable of murder. He doesn't have any doubt about it. Everybody. He guesses people don't want to be told this. He truly believes this, and as we start this magnificent novel; we learn early on that this is his truth. We are introduced to Wylie, who is unable to digest the killing he has seen, and who moves on; and who appears in every chapter in one form or another- the dark eyes, the gun, the glint, and/or the suggestion. The inverted structure form of storytelling introduces us to the people who are touched by these impulses of violence. The real consequences, it lessens the voyeuristic view, and we learn what really matters from the people intimately involved. In a dark green '69 Ford Galaxie, Wylie Jones drives across America and into the heart of darkness. We meet Wylie, and his wife Rho, and their children and two friends who come for dinner. The All-American family until Wylie goes missing. Mr. CD and Latisha , the burned out, doped up couple living from one fix to the next. The hitchhiker and the various and sundry people who pick him up. The dangerous and the deranged. Emory Chace, the motel owner and his crazed family, all of them unhinged just a little, and is that Wylie who has absconded with the daughter? Perry Foyle who resides in a "Fuck House", and videotapes the smut for sale. He sideswiped a dark green Ford as he tried to force his way into his parking place, a BIG mistake. Nikki and Jessie who work in an all -night wedding chapel in Las Vegas. The chapel somehow keeps losing some of their for-sale wedding bands. Amanda and Drake, my favorite couple, who go on a search for truth and reality in Borneo. Amanda, who, above everyone else, has the ability to reach redemption and to understand the truth. And then to the Babylon Gardens, the nursery to the stars, and to the woman who owns the business and the man who lives with her. Finally, to the last scene, where we really don't see anything. It is all in our head. It is all dialogue, no action and simple prose. It is all our impression, and really isn't that what the road to life is,BK? Stephen Wright is a magician with his pen. As he says "I think, when your sense of self becomes more and more fragile and more and more tenuated and there's less control then. What lies in the wake is a life of just sheer impulse and living for the moment, etcetera. This is where a l

Brilliant Postmodern Satire

Stephen's Wright's third novel, Going Native, is written as a postmodern modular satire. Robert Coover very correctly described Going Native as "a sensational prime time novel...a pornographic twilight zone of beebee-eyed serial killers, drug-stunned pants-dropping road-warriors and 'marauding armies of mental vampires,' a nightmarish country of unparalleled savagery, where there is no longer any membrane between screen and life and the monster image feed is inexhaustible."Going Native is composed of a seemingly unconnected series of vignettes of life along the road whose sole connecting factor lies in the presence of Wylie, a middle-class husband and father, and resident of Wakefield Estates. After stealing a green Fold Galaxie, Wylie transforms himself from everyday businessman into mass murderer. His chance encounters with a sequence of characters includes a suburban couple into drugs and kinky sex, a murderous hitchhiker, the runaway daughter of a desert motel owner, a voyeuristic porno moviemaker, a woman who sells jewelry and serves as a witness in Las Vegas wedding chapels and a California film industry couple who have just returned from a trek through the jungles of Borneo.The only thing serving to connect these disparate narrative modules is Wylie, who, while on the road, operates under the name of Tom Hanna. Fate, chance or pure bad luck brings the life of each of the above characters (whose background has been filled in for the reader) into contact with the bizarre figure of Wylie. He thus becomes the one connective nomadic signifier that serves to link these disjointed stories as well as a metaphor for a fragmented and disjointed American reality.The modular format of Going Native enables Wright to satirize various aspects of modern American life while bringing together, within a single narrative the contradictions of postmodern identity. Although the characters Wylie encounters randomly along the road may at first appear mutable, fragmented and even freakish, we come to realize in them a tiresome, almost cliched sameness and uniformity.Going Native is a compelling indictment of the American postmodern culture. Wylie, himself, brings chaos, disillusion and death to all whom he encounters. In doing so, he comes to represent a form of estrangement that Wright so thoroughly critiques. He burrows into our images, forcing each of his victims to confront their status as temporal constructs and acknowledge their own mortality.The point Wright seem to want to make is that we can't escape our own historicity, our own "hauntology," our own mortality; they are embedded in the makeup of our very lives. That Wright is able to portray this complex contradiction in disparate narratives disrupted and connected only by the figure of Wylie is testament to Wright's tremendous satiric talent. With Going Native, Stephen Wright joins that group of postmodern satirists (Pynchon, Gaddis, Acker, Elkin, Coover) who choose to diagnose a highly sympto

A great literary secret.

Wright's novel vastly transcends the savvy pop-cultural allusions and references in which it abounds. "Going Native," as well as his earlier stupendous novels "Meditations in Green" and "M31: A Family Romance," acutely articulates the fluid and associative trajectories of thought as they fall under the influences of contemporary modern American culture. At random, pick any page from one of his books and you'll discover that ubiquitous lapidary perfection of form that is a hallmark of artistic greatness. Wright is, as was Cormac McCarthy, a great unsung hero of American literature.

Completely renewed my faith in current American fiction

I truly loved this novel, so much so that I have read it now completely through three times. The structure, presented as a series of fully self-sufficient short stories each interlinked by the presence of Wylie (or whatever his name may really have been), at first only peripherally, and then increasingly more emphatic, until at last we are completely inside his head (without much extra room, at that), is not only brilliantly conceived, but also spectacularly realised. The way Wright uses language is maximal, to say the very least; his leisurely pacing and complex sentence structure are almost reminiscent of Faulkner (as is the book's unrelenting darkness), but his hip appropriation of popular iconography is unique. His characters are every stripe of crackpot and schemer, and the way he contrasts the lives and thoughts of each, stretched out in thickets of languorously-phrased prose, with the brutal and abrupt way each is touched by Wylie's increasingly deadly actions forms, for me, the greatest appeal of the novel. The section on Borneo, in which the filmmaker and his wife "go native", is perhaps the most extraordinary of the pieces, although the entire book is stunningly written and as fine and unforgettable as anything I've read in years. It inspired a renewed interest in me in reading modern short stories, and I read both of Wright's other novels as well, although clearly this is his best to date. As David Lynch once described Eraserhead, it is a dream of dark and disturbing things. It's certainly well worth the effort.
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