'I Will Be Complete is the best memoir I've read in years. It's likely the best memoir published in years.' Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng
From the bestselling author of Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside, a shocking, big-hearted memoir about his bizarre upbringing in California in the 1970s and how he survived it.
Glen David Gold grew up rich on the beaches of 1970s California, until his father lost a fortune and his parents divorced when he was ten.
Glen and his English mother moved to San Francisco, where she was fleeced by a series of charming con men and turned increasingly wayward. When he was twelve, she took off for New York without telling him, leaving him to fend for himself. On midnight streets and at drug-fuelled parties, wise-cracking his way through an alarming adult world, Glen watched his mother's countless, wild attempts to reinvent herself.
In this exceptional memoir, acclaimed novelist Glen David Gold captures his bizarre, lonely upbringing and how it shaped him as an adult with stunning insight and unsparing candour. Shocking, mordantly funny and achingly affecting, he tells an unforgettable story of the years he spent trying to rescue his mother - and his ultimate realisation that only by breaking free could he ever hope to be complete.
'The prose is crystalline, hard as real diamonds, flashing, revealing. The story is simple, just a boy and his mother's long disintegration, but the journey is darkly complicated, heartbreaking, beautiful as hell.' Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama
Glen David Gold was born and grew up in California, where he currently lives. His first novel, CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL was published in 2001, when it was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and has been translated into 14 languages. His second novel, SUNNYSIDE, was published in 2009. His short stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Playboy and McSweeney's.
Remarkable . . . The product of nine years of work and a lifetime of reflection, the book is full of humour, unflinching reflection and flashes of horror. And it exudes tremendous empathy for his mother . . . Gold's book is funnier and more hopeful than any story about a child's abandonment and a parent's descent into terrifying chaos has a right to be. — The Times T2
In this dazzling memoir, Glen David Gold shows us the dark side of the Auntie Mame myth. Raised by an unreliable bohemian mother in 1970s California, Gold follows the trail of damage she leaves, marking his adolescence and young manhood, until he decides he must choose between being 'complete' and emotionally whole. Beautiful and deft, witty and searing, like a playful song with a persistent bass line of unresolved grief. I can't stop thinking about it. — Janet Fitch, author of The Revolution of Marina M. and White Oleander
We expect the story of a boy and his mother ought to go a certain way. I Will Be Complete goes in ways you'd never expect. The people shatter, reassemble themselves, and shatter all over again. The prose is crystalline, hard as real diamonds, flashing, revealing. The story is simple, just a boy and his mother's long disintegration, but the journey is darkly complicated, heartbreaking, beautiful as hell — Mark Childress, author of CRAZY IN ALABAMA
Glen David Gold is one of the best storytellers working today. He could write about anything and make it gripping. As it turns out, he also has one hell of a story to tell. — Joseph Fink, author of WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE
An extraordinary account of an extraordinary life. Gold captures with stunning clarity the emotional chaos he grew up in, and that made him the brilliant writer he is now. — Lev Grossman, author of THE MAGICIANS
Gold's heartbreaking, brave book deals with his tangled, troubled and troubling relationship with his tempestuous mother and, with insightful introspection, he reveals how it has affected all his other relationships. It's a shocking read, describing a shattered childhood, a complicated adolescence and an adulthood that finds him happy and whole. — Book of the Month, Psychologies
I Will Be Complete is the best memoir I've read in years. It's likely the best memoir published in years. Gold's a novelist and this book reads like the best fiction. It's exciting, beautiful, and clear-eyed in a way most memoirs aren't. Oh, and you'll never forget this charming, intelligent, unique narrator. — Darin Strauss, author of HALF A LIFE and CHANG AND ENG
Gold's intentions are so sincere and his scenes so well articulated and raw that it's easy to immerse yourself and go with whatever he throws at you. Luckily, I Will Be Complete is one helluva ride . . . Much like Jeannette Walls' relationship with her mother in The Glass Castle or Augusten Burroughs' accounts in Running With Scissors, Gold's mother's twisted antics and Gold's increasingly muted reactions to them are not just fuel for evocative storytelling; they're also the throughlines that propel the memoir forward . . . in his capable hands even the smallest events seem revelatory. Each dimwitted move his mother makes reads as more bonkers (and undeniably sad) than the last. Each time Gold throws himself into love, it's like Orpheus trying to win back Eurydice. When combined with his deadpan delivery and wry sense of humor, each obstacle to overcome or hoop to jump through takes on a life of its own . . . what he's produced is anything but hardhearted or unsympathetic. Instead, Gold's memoir is once again wickedly intelligent, wildly imaginative (well, in some ways) and everything in between. — San Francisco Chronicle
Imagine Home Alone with a kid who is part Salvador Dali, part Holden Caulfield . . . an extraordinary book about growing up in California . . . Gold's childhood is much more than merely interesting; it is riveting . . . [his] knack for devastating insights are a marvel to read . . . There are passages that dazzle, passages that fall flat in intricately designed ways . . . I Will Be Complete is an audacious, boundary-shattering work that will be talked about for a very long time. — LA Times
a banquet of vivacity, shrewdness and wit, a soiree of heart-wreck wised up by humour. . . One of the myriad delights of this memoir is its revealing vista onto the ethos of San Francisco in the 70s and Los Angeles in the '80s, deleted worlds in which outrageous characters stagger and strive. . . Gold is a dynamic writer outfitted in wisdom and verve, one whose sentences you'll want to remember. — William Giraldi, The Washington Post
Gold's sentences reflect the surface of the 1970s perfectly . . . Gold's novelistic handling of these moments is brilliant . . . It's a dazzlingly insightful account how the smart children of emotionally 'shattered' adults attempt to hold themselves and their parents together as they grow . . . Gold says he is finally happy. He's achieved this state by letting go of his ned to explain and save his mother. He broke the bonds of her 'terrible love'. And like his muse, Houdini, Gold has made a moving public spectacle of his escape. — Helen R. Brown, Spectator
Remarkable . . . It's a tale of disintegrating relationships, bad choices, guilt, panic, hurt and weighty sadness so well told, with such lucidity and honesty, it's almost frightening to read . . . Gold wears his wisdom and novelist's powers of observation lightly, remaining beguilingly modest and likeable to the end. — Jane Graham, Big Issue
The creative and emotional lives of "men raised by shattered women" are seldom told in the first person, and almost never with the compassion of distance and immediacy of observation and detail seen here. The memoir is equally subtle and shocking, as clear-eyed about how the sins of the parent are visited on the child as it is generous and loving, at least as far as love can be expected to go . . . Joan Didion said we write to survive. Gold's father tells himself stories "about having landed where he belonged, and that lasted till his next divorce". Gold's mother didn't think people "were what they did. Instead, they were what they told you they did". But I Will Be Complete does more than show how our fantasies push us away from the pain of the past. He suggests that the "pathology of fiction" is how we experience and shape life itself. The writer's tricks of temptation and evasion, foreshadowing and repetition, dangling a telling detail here and hinting at dark motivations there; all are present in the conman's patter and the self-delusion of an adult stealing her son's childhood so she can have another shot at her own . . . I Will Be Complete touches lightly on the set pieces, bizarre incidents and bravura descriptions that readers of Gold's bestselling novels, Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside, will treasure . . . I Will Be Complete must draw on copious journals, but it never feels over-worked or weighed down with detail. It moves sinuously through fads, fashions, and ways of speaking and being specific to moments in life and a particular time and place. Sometimes it's downright odd. Read it and you will never listen to REM's Cuyahoga the same way again . . . Sunnyside, Gold's marvellous picaresque about Charlie Chaplin and the impossible vagaries of fate, riffs on the line "call no man lucky until he is dead". Here, the book writes the life back into something real. You cannot read it and remain unchanged. — Maria Farrell, Irish Times
I suspect that in time his extraordinary memoir will eclipse all that . . . It's a tale of a boy's moral and sentimental education, with all the febrile moods and heart-stopping lurches of a Donna Tartt epic . . . There's something painfully sweet about this memoir, particularly the way Gold wills himself to extract something of value from the pain inflicted by irresponsible adults . . . Gold's memoir is smart, generous, and gripping until the very last pages. It's one of the best books I've read in 2018. — Joanna Thomas-Corr, New Statesman
It's a memoir that sees Gold delving into his own past and his relationships with a largely absent father and a difficult mother . . . It's a fine, funny, discomfiting book. And very candid. He writes about the boy he was and the man he would become. — Teddy Jamieson, Sunday Herald