THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE by T.C. Boyle

THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE

KIRKUS REVIEW

 In his fifth novel (East is East, 1990, etc.), one of America's most exuberant satirists takes on the national obsession with health and nutritional fads. It's a perfect fit. Battle Creek, Michigan, 1907, breakfast-food capital of the US. C.W. Post (Grape-Nuts) and the Kellogg brothers have already made their fortunes, but there's still a gold rush atmosphere in town. The inventor of the corn flake, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a preening martinet, now devotes himself to his Sanitarium (``luxury hotel, hospital and spa all rolled into one''), where he denounces meat-eating, enforces a five-enema-a-day regimen, and keeps his wealthy patients busy with such wacky treatments as the sinusoidal bath. Two of those patients are Will and Eleanor Lightbody of Peterskill, New York. While Eleanor talks up the San with fanatical zeal, the skeptical Will, struggling miserably with the cardboard food and fatuous pieties of his fellow-diners, is as lonely as Winston Smith in 1984. Another New York arrival, engaging young hustler Charlie Ossining, is in town to start his own breakfast- food company with partner Bender. What follows is a weave of satire and melodrama and three storylines: the lurid struggle-to-the-death between the Doctor and his outcast son George (the only one of 42 adopted kids to invalidate Kellogg's child-rearing principles); the equally melodramatic vicissitudes of Charlie; and the Lightbodys' marital drama, which climaxes when Will regains his sense of self and rescues Eleanor from the womb-manipulator Spitzvogel. Any raggedness is more than compensated for by Boyle's Dickensian eye for the grotesque and his formidable narrative power; most fittingly, for a book about the body, Boyle is one of those gloriously physical writers who can describe a simple walk on a cold night in a way that makes your blood tingle. Big, smart, exciting, and often wildly funny. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Rolling Stone; film rights to Alan Parker)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-84334-2
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993




T.C. BOYLE:

Fiction A FRIEND OF THE EARTH by T.C. Boyle
by T.C. Boyle
Fiction AFTER THE PLAGUE by T.C. Boyle
by T.C. Boyle
Fiction DROP CITY by T.C. Boyle
by T.C. Boyle
Fiction RIVEN ROCK by T.C. Boyle
by T.C. Boyle

MORE BY T.C. BOYLE

FictionT.C. BOYLE STORIES II by T.C. Boyle
by T.C. Boyle
FictionSAN MIGUEL by T.C. Boyle
by T.C. Boyle
FictionWHEN THE KILLING'S DONE by T.C. Boyle
by T.C. Boyle