Getting Right

Suppose your more than mildly irritating leech of a sister calls you, as she usually does, wanting money, only this time she says instead that she has cancer and in the course of the conversation challenges you to write the story of her life. You say, sure, you’ll do that but on one condition: you reserve the right to tell her story the way you see it. She reluctantly agrees and Getting Right, is born.

The story evolves into a three-part family saga about not only the dying sister, Connie, but her brother Len as well. And it’s also about “me,” the third sibling and narrator, who spins a story of all their lives through an interplay of memory and imagination. In the end, will “the truth” of Connie’s life—or any of theirs, for that matter—ever be truly known?

Gary Wilson’s Getting Right got right to me. It’s smart and funny but, more than anything, it’s achingly honest about family — the hurts that persist no matter how many apologies or how much forgiveness, the unreliability of shared memories, and the constancy of love, imperfect and annoying as it may be. This is a beautiful read.

– Achy Obejas, editor of Immigrant Voices, 21st Century Stories, and author of the novel Ruins

Aptly titled, Gary D. Wilson’s compelling novel Getting Right indeed gets it right through a colorful, conversational narrative about the lives and deaths of a man’s all-too-human brother and sister. Like a conversation with a good friend over a beer, the book is full of stories both comic and sad. This is an honest, memorable work about family and its demands, honorably told, a book full of grace, grit, and gentle humor.

— Tony Ardizzone, author of The Whale Chaser

Gary Wilson has written here a poignant tale of imperfection and frailty and the bloody root of living mortality: the madness of family and illness and regret and the muddle of life claiming victory, even over implacable death. His story traces the profound force of individual origin, how the conditions from which we hail transcend time and memory and linger beyond their own limits within us, authoring fate, making a mess of well-laid lives, and proving the willful a feckless lot. For all the morbidity usually bound up with such themes, Wilson tells his story from a deep reserve of caustic humor and endows this narrative with an insight that cuts to the quick. It is a deeply personal tale of the price of survival that manages to get at something relevant to the mad ways of humanity and being.

— Bayo Ojikutu, author of Free Burning and 47th Street Black, winner of the Great American Book Award

Here’s a ticket to the end of life’s guilt trips.  Flying always back home to Kansas, burying first his hopeless brother and later his hyper-resentful sister, Gary Wilson’s narrator whips up what seems a lifetime’s worth of bad jokes, great stories, and mislaid joys—and in the eye of the storm somehow strikes a note of mordant gutsiness and clear-eyed love.  A book about death that is rippling with vigor and comedy, Getting Right embraces all that is wrong with life in a bear hug that won’t let go.

— Benjamin Lytal, author of A Map of Tulsa