Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Domestic drama explores complexities of family life

  • Print

This beautiful and multi-layered novel explores the uncomfortable complexities of family life and the pain and difficulty of relinquishing the past.

The natural, understated elegance of Toronto-based author Dennis Bock's prose quickly becomes quite addictive. His narrator's conversational style contributes to a delicious feeling of intimacy, as though we're listening to a good friend.

A contemporary domestic drama, Going Home Again is a departure for Bock, whose previous fiction, such as The Ash Garden and The Communist's Daughter, have been more strongly rooted in actual events.

Charlie Bellerose is the 40-something owner-operator of an international chain of language schools catering to students. For the past 20-odd years, he has been living the good life in Spain with his family, but now finds himself at loose ends following his wife's affair and their separation.

Though it will mean leaving his daughter behind, he makes plans to return to his hometown of Toronto, seeing his newfound freedom as an opportunity to start up a school in Canada.

It will also mean reconnecting with his older and unpredictable brother Nate, which is cause for concern, especially since their last reunion proved disastrous.

"There had always been some fundamental confusion between us... an unending failure to imagine how the other saw and thought about the world that too often made things go sideways between us," Charlie says.

He senses, however -- perhaps hopes -- that Nate really has changed. He's now a successful sports and entertainment lawyer with two clever, energetic boys. The only fly in the ointment is Nate's wife, who has recently left him for another man, but as Charlie points out, their "dishearteningly similar" stories only serve to further bond the brothers.

Quickly settling into his new life, Charlie nevertheless struggles to stay connected with Ava, despite the distance between them. He is essentially living in two different worlds, in limbo.

He is further thrown off course by an unexpected meeting with his first love, Holly. He becomes obsessed with seeing her again, unable to shake the feeling that their chance meeting was somehow preordained.

But further contact with Holly only causes painful memories to resurface, namely the unexpected suicide of their mutual friend Miles during their college days, leaving Charlie haunted with regret.

As Charlie muses, "Wasn't that the greatest irony? That what you need to leave behind are things you're unable to abandon."

Meanwhile, Nate grows increasingly bitter over his wife's infidelity, which only intensifies when she moves for custody of their boys. "Sometimes I think I'd like to stick a fork in her eye," he says. Troubled by the intensifying violence of his brother's words, Charlie is still reluctant to find fault with Nate's behaviour, rationalizing that any man in his situation -- and he should know -- should not be judged for a little anger.

The horrific and ultimately surprising climax leads to Charlie's realization that "our loved ones were capable of far more than we were able to handle... there were conflicting worlds within us all, and those worlds were ready and willing to defy us at the worst possible moment."

Bock's novel may seem at first to be a cautionary tale, but it's more than that. Charlie, Bock is an everyman trying to make sense of the challenges and mysteries of life. Dragged down by a painful past, and caught up in extraordinary circumstances in the present, he faces an uncertain future.

We all have people and events in our past we'd rather forget, yet there are always things worth holding onto. The trick is learning to tell the difference.

 

Lindsay McKnight works in the arts in Winnipeg.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 10, 2013 A1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gail Asper says museum honours her father’s vision

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Deer in Canola field near Elma, Manitoba. 060706.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the Canadian Museum for Human Rights use the word 'genocide' in exhibits on Indian residential schools?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google