Robert Goolrick wanted to end his life in France. He died on April 29 in a hospice in Lynchburg (Virginia), very weakened by ten months of hospitalization due to Covid-19. He was 73 years old.
Born on August 4, 1948 in Lexington (Virginia) to a father who was a university literature professor and a stay-at-home mother, he studied in Baltimore, before starting his European “Grand Tour” to discover his vocation. artistic, and falls in love with France. Back in the United States, he went into advertising in New York and found himself, at the age of 28, at the head of one of the largest agencies in the country. In his novel The Fall of Princes (Anne Carrière, like all his books, 2014), he describes – transposing it to Wall Street – “the original incandescence” of the conflagration that he knows then, the indecent vertigo of money, drugs and sex, and the death that mows down the less tough.
Brutally fired at 53, he then entered literature, a vocation that kept him alive. In the United States, success comes with A simple and honest woman (2009), which sold over a million copies. From then on, his work was divided into two triptychs, one purely romantic – A simple and honest woman, A wanderer arrives (2012)After the fire (2017) –the autofictional other – ferocious (2010)The Fall of Princes, Thus passes the glory of the world (2019).
America praises him for the first, France loves both sides of his work. He received the Readers’ Prize there. Elle in 2013 and the Fitzgerald Prize in 2015. Goolrick comes to receive his trophies in person, with the joy of a child and an assiduously repeated speech in French. He dedicates his last book, Thus passes the glory of the worldto ” France, [s]we heart ».
American destiny embodied in France
The disappearance of Robert Goolrick, in loneliness and destitution, will have sealed his American destiny. In his momentum and then his decline, in the sublimation of despair, in the dizzying call of suicide, he will have followed a familiar trajectory à la Fitzgerald, à la Carson McCullers (with whom he played cards as a child), or à la Harper Lee ( whom he had met).
By exploiting the theme of the fall to obsession (in the social shipwreck of his narrator or the spectacular suicides of characters cornered by their inability to live without excess), he intertwines his intimate existence with the history of the Southern States. , who embody a golden age he longs for. This religious, dark and lewd America obsesses him, even if its influence is at the unforgivable price of slavery. This original American sin, Goolrick endorses it as the nameless abuse that scarred his early childhood and of which he obscurely felt more guilty than a victim.
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