“My father is going to die today. I’m sitting on the bed next to him, leaning down, my forearm propped against his. Our palms are pressed together in a formal dance position. . . . If he weren’t in a coma, I’d never dare do this. My father refused to dance at his own wedding. And all the years after that. My mother has never forgiven him.”
Mournful but strangely liberated following the death of her father, Alice leaves her mother and sister behind in New England. Returning to New York, she finds herself suddenly impatient with her old life, her numbing office job, and her self-absorbed journalist boyfriend, Jack.
Alice plunges headlong into the world of ballroom dance, a forbidden pleasure in her repressed father’s eyes, and surrenders to the sweet oblivion of mambo in the arms of her dance teacher, Carlos. But when she learns that her mother and sister have embarked on their own separate journeys of discovery, she is drawn inexorably back home. Sex, wine, and dance are the siren songs that lure each woman to explore the sensual pleasures forbidden by the man who can no longer dictate their lives.
He Goes, She Goes is a novel about the power of family secrets, revealing the circuitous, unexpected route that healing can take as one revisits the past and changes the emotional landscape of the future.
Like Mary Gaitskill and Mary Gordon, Joanna Torrey writes from a dark, often edgy place. In her critically acclaimed collection of stories, Hungry, she revealed her unique vision of what lies beneath the surface of our lives, the conflicting feelings that confuse and inspire us, and the ever-shifting boundaries between what is right and acceptable versus what is wrong and inappropriate. Now with He Goes, She Goes, Torrey gracefully weaves the complex melodies that comprise a family, exploring how people must sometimes open old wounds in unsettling ways to allow them to heal.
About Joanna Torrey
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Published December 11, 2001
Literature & Fiction.