Gob's Grief: A Novel
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In the summer of 1863, Gob and Tomo Woodhull, eleven-year-old twin sons of Victoria Woodhull, agree to together forsake their home and family in Licking County, Ohio, for the glories of the Union Army. But on the night of their departure for the war, Gob suffers a change of heart, and Tomo is forced to leave his brother behind. Tomo falls in as a bugler with the Ninth Ohio Volunteers and briefly revels in camp life; but when he is shot clean through the eye in his very first battle, Gob is left to endure the guilt and grief that will later come to fuel his obsession with building a vast machine that will bring Tomo–indeed, all the Civil War dead–back to life.
Epic in scope yet emotionally intimate, Gob’s Grief creates a world both fantastic and familiar and populates it with characters who breath on the page, capturing the spirit of a fevered nation populated with lost brothers and lost souls.
but Tennie by their bad habits, and in her mind she often referred to them by their chiefest sins instead of their names. So big, hairy Malden Claflin was Gluttony. Sinister, one-eyed Buck, who’d come pawing at Maci one night in her bedroom, and was dealt a black eye by her left hand, was Avarice, because his greed was even more prominent a feature in him than his lechery. Miss Utica, drunk and jealous of her sisters every hour of the day and night, was Envy. Worst of all of them was Anna
wrote. But his life seemed to be proceeding very smoothly and happily without Walt in it. His work went very well—You should see how our little friend has grown, Gob wrote, meaning his engine. He reported that his wife got more beautiful every day, and every time he put pen to paper the weather in New York was balmy or crisp or the beautiful snow was falling like a blessing. (In Washington, meanwhile, it was sweltering or bitter stinging cold or ice fell from the sky and slew horses by the
larger than any other, and because it was located in what might as well have been the center of a thing that was otherwise mischievously asymmetric. That part looked like the gate to Greenwood Cemetery, complete with a gatehouse, and the whole thing sheltered under a pair of wings. The gatehouse was lovely, a little church of glass and bone and steel. It was full of gears—visibly turning through the glass—which ranged in size from one story high to as small as the nail of Pickie’s thumb, and they
sign: Toll of War in Onondaga County, New York—September 1862. Will had departed from his parents’ house late at night. His mother lay asleep on the green sofa upon which she had made it her custom to grieve until exhausted. He looked at her breathing noisily through her open mouth, and debated whether he ought to kiss her goodbye. As he leaned down he thought better of it—she might wake, after all, and inaugurate some sort of hideous, tear-soaked scene. He turned away from her and imagined, as
finger-kilt-and-blood-cap-wearing madman. Plato and Euclid, Archimedes, Ctesibius, Archytas of Tarentum—sometimes Gob’s eyes felt weak, but he loved what he read. He would rather sit with a book than with the Urfeist. His favorite thing was to sit in his room with a giant dusty book in his lap, some whiskey in one hand and a brick of sweet chocolate in the other, partaking of whiskey, knowledge, and chocolate in succession. He stole the whiskey from the pantry, and usually when the Urfeist