The Lonely Polygamist
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393062625, $26.95, www.amazon.com
Discovery of an old cultural taboo, polygamy, is the theme of "The Lonely Polygamist". Golden Richards has 4 wives and 28 children. His relationships are described in vivid detail showing how he interacted with his family even though they lived in different homes. Richards is a nice man and his daily encounters with family life as a polygamist are downright funny. He coped with problems by isolating himself from the interaction which normally would go on between a man and his spouse.
This is not a book for the faint hearted as it is adult reading, not smutty, but the use of realistic language should be expected. Golden was not a saint by any means, but at the same time he had a set of morals which came through in the way that he treated his wives and children.
Written in a style which is reminiscent of many wonderful authors of the past, this story gives insight into the nuances one would expect when he visited his wives in their respective homes to have connubial relations. One of his wives took on the responsibility of scheduling his visits, but occasionally he failed to show up! Golden was not the stud one would expect to find in such a paradise, at times he is impotent. He was not able to live up to his end of the bargain with some of his wives which led to his isolation when he took up living in a tiny Airstream trailer near the job site he had contracted to build. While his families lived near St. George, Utah, he worked in a remote area of Nevada constructing a cathouse!
We see the sensitive side of Golden as he dealt with the death of one of his children who had been born disabled. Empathizing with his grief, the reader feels his genuine sorrow. Udall's descriptive prose really conveys the essence of a father's loss.
In reading this novel, one cannot wonder, who wrote this book. Was the author close to Mormon life, or was he writing about what he fantasized it would be? The answer was not in the book, but in the material which accompanied it for publicity purposes. Brady Udall was raised in a Mormon family, his great-great grandfather was a polygamist and he says that he would not exist if polygamy didn't exist. Briefly put, Udall opines why people are so fascinated about polygamy, "in one word, sex".
This novel compels the reader to read on with its interesting characters and their...