978-0-345-41453-3 / 0345414535

Gone for Good (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

by Childress, Mark

Publisher:Ballantine Books



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About the book:

Seventies folk-rock icon Ben "Superman" Willis may be at the height of his fame, but he's not having very much fun. The touring lifestyle has lost its luster, his marriage to a former Miss Southwest Louisiana is on the rocks, and his only real pleasure comes from flying his Beechcraft Baron twin-engine plane 9,000 feet above all his earthly obligations. One day, Superman's plane goes missing, thanks to a storm, a faulty compass, and some very strong dope. To the rest of the world, it's as if he has disappeared into thin air. In reality, he crash lands on a lush tropical island, where the first person he sees bears an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe. As he recuperates, he meets various other castaways: an elderly aviatrix who may or may not be Amelia Earhart; her cross-dressing putative copilot; elegant Princess Annie; and a barrel-chested barbecue chef named Jimmy--Hoffa, that is. Just like these famously dead and disappeared celebrities, Superman has found the one place that could fulfill his own secret wish: to fly so far away from his own life that he registers on no one's radar at all.

The author of wacky Southern bildungsromans such as Tender and Crazy in Alabama, Mark Childress branches out into new imaginative territory with Gone for Good, a novel with an all-star cast and a sprawling, slightly ramshackle plot. Superman's presence on the island unleashes some mighty odd goings-on, involving a power-mad islander the locals call El Mago, armies of mystically inclined monkeys, and a wizened native sage who produces gnomic utterances such as "Sometime is no why. Sometime just is." At times it seems that Childress's hero has escaped one adolescent male fantasy (rock & roll stardom) only to fall into the arms of another: he gains magical powers, makes love to Marilyn Monroe, and engages in some highly entertaining monkey-wrenching against the island's would-be developers. Plus, everybody keeps telling him how important he is. No matter: like Superman himself, the book has a shaggy-dog charm, and in the end, the author produces some moving truths about fame, love, and what it truly means to disappear. --Mary Park

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