Author(s): Ryan Bartelmay
Set over the last half of the twentieth century, Onward Toward What We're Going Toward is the epic story of the decline and fall of an American family. Postwar newlyweds Chic and Diane Waldbeeser are determined to carve out a life for themselves and their son, Lomax, in Middleville, Illinois. But when ten-year-old Loxax dies, Chic and Diane take refuge in religion, haiku poetry, doll collecting, food and bowling as they try to make sense of their overwhelming grief and guilt. Meanwhile Chic's older brother, Buddy, struggles to make a life with his exotic, naive wife Lijy - who is hiding a devastating secret of her own - while attempting to introduce the residents of Middleville to vegetarianism and Ayurveda. (An unusual endeavour in mid-century Middle America.) Onward Toward What We're Going Toward is a bittersweet paean to failed lives and missed opportunities, and a deeply heartfelt and gloriously funny dissection of the American Dream.
Ryan Bartelmay has written a sprawling, ambitious, great hearted novel about what comforts and kills us the most: family. A work of love and fear, secrets and cruelty, by a wonderful new writer. -- Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet Ryan Bartelmay achieves something like intimate sweep in this funny, soulful novel about love, time, and hope. -- Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts Sharp, elegant and poignant. Booklist Miscommunication reigns in Bartelmay's debut novel about the inevitable attrition of self-delusions...a wistful take on the classic American reinvention tale. Publishers Weekly What a kind, warm-hearted and generous novel! Onward Toward What We're Going Toward is a splendid evocation of America's heartland and the sometimes confused, lost, desperately seeking and often comic souls that populate it. -- Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears and How to Read the Air
Ryan Bartelmay graduated from the University of Iowa in 1998, where he was a member of the Undergraduate Writer's Workshop, and then went on to Columbia University to receive an MFA in fiction writing in 2005. He lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter and two cats.