…About Getting Right
— November 8, 2016
“Getting Right is one of those books where much of what makes it a compelling read isn’t what is being told, but rather how. Wilson’s sprawling prose is reminiscent of a novel like “All the King’s Men,” and similarly features a conversational narrator who strings us along for the ride.” (Read full review > )
— NewCity Review, April 2016
Getting Right is an absolutely absorbing and exceptional novel that establishes author Gary D. Wilson as an original and impressively gifted storyteller of the first order. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “Getting Right” is also available in a Kindle edition.
— Midwest Book Review, March 2016
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
…About Sing, Ronnie Blue
With this debut, readers reading him for the first time will find out what I’ve known for 20 years, that Wilson is one of the best fiction writers around
–Stephen Dixon, author most recently of His Wife Leaves Him
One sweltering Fourth-of-July a charming, unemployed grease monkey named Ronnie Blue celebrates his twenty-third birthday by taking his Wichita girlfriend down the road to his hometown of Bartlett’s Junction. Dark secrets from the past hover over his homecoming, and Ronnie Blue finds himself locked in an inevitable conflict with his former best friend, John Klein, son of the town’s most prominent family. Both men are caught between the tug of their unlived dreams and the grip of their shared past. In this striking first novel, Gary Wilson uses language as stark and relentless as his Kansas landscape to uncover the longings and violence that simmer in the heart of the country.
–Allen Wier, author of Tehano
Gary D. Wilson’s style is so taut, his lyrical language so precise and seductive, we can’t believe what’s cracking open before us: two men’s lives, fused and fraught, brought together again, by chance on the Fourth of July. Sing, Ronnie Blue begins with an early morning bedevilment by firecrackers; it ends with an inferno of historic entanglements. Reading this novel, I had to remind myself to breathe, and when I did, my exhalation was a feeble thanks that I’ve been spared the unforeseeable consequences of my own intoxicating and half-cocked choices. So far.
–Jeanine Hathaway, author of Motherhouse and The Self as Constellation (Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize for Poetry)
I will not be recommending this to my Sunday School class.
“Set in a small Kansas town, Sing, Ronnie Blue interweaves the stories of boyhood friends who have taken different paths into adulthood: Ronnie Blue, an improvident auto mechanic, who returns home for the 4th of July—his birthday—to relive his glory days and communicate their splendor to his girlfriend; and John Klein, the privileged son of a banker, who lives in the town of their youth and has done everything right—until his path again intersects with Blue’s.
“Written in a style that is at once lyrical and unflinching, Wilson’s novel grapples with social inequality in American life and social status in a small town. More deeply, it wrestles with the mysterious forces that can shape someone’s fate.”
–Eric Herman, The Chicago Sun-Times
“From the first pages of Wilson’s debut novel, you know there’s going to be trouble, you just don’t know how bad it’s going to be. . . .Wilson has crafted a tightly, tensely written story. . .(with) complex characters who are hard to forget. . . .Sing, Ronnie Blue welds psychological suspense to brutal violence as it builds to it harrowing end.”
–Lisa McLendon, The Wichita Eagle
“Sing, Ronnie Blue suggests that contrary to Thomas Wolfe’s adage, not only is one able to go home again, but one is never able to leave home, a person is defined by one’s home. Ronnie can no more not be a junkman’s son than John can not be the banker’s son.
“Wilson’s short novel is compact and concise. His language is as solid and forceful as a rabbit-punch to the kidneys. The book has echoes of stories that have become part of American culture. While reading it, I could not help hearing, with the same tragic irony, Jimmy Cagney in the movie White Heat yelling, ‘Made it, Ma. Top of the world.'”
–Harold N. Walters, armchairinterviews.com
“The wonder of this taut, riveting novel is that Wilson creates a believable, if not lovable, protagonist. Ronnie Blue, who formerly teamed up with John Klein in a singing duo, returns years later with a hayseed teenage girlfriend after being fired from his job as a car mechanic in Wichita, to Bartlett’s Junction, Kansas on Independence Day. In a series of hot-headed shenanigans – break-ins and burglaries reminiscent of the misdemeanors in a novel like Denis Johnson’s “Angels” – Blue carves out his name and declares his independence in spades. Nowhere does Wilson bemoan Blue as a lost son or an unsung hero. Instead, the reader follows Blue’s hell-bent journey as a revenant, disproving the platitude that you can’t go home again. Blue comes back home all right, with a vengeance we understand, given his steely dad and cringing mom, his self-aggrandizing meanness. Throughout, Wilson manages to turn his novel into a paean for what must have been the stomping grounds where he grew up on the prairie. No matter that there is no actual Bartlett’s Junction in Kansas. Wilson has lovingly sketched in its streets and fields, its carny fairground, as a kind of personal paradise lost… I can’t sing the praises of Sing, Ronnie Blue loudly enough.”
–Jaime Reyes, Review on amazon.com