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The Temple of Gold by William Goldman
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The Temple of Gold

by William Goldman

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I read it around 1962 when I was in high school. A certain passage has stuck with me ever since. A new boy moves in next door, same age as our 12-year-old protagonist, and here is the first meeting:

"I hear you're an absolute angel," I said to him that morning.
"I hear you're not," he came right back, which threw me, because I didn't know how the news had spread so fast.


A wonderfully-described friendship grows through junior high and high school. Then 43 pages later on their last night before parting to separate colleges and, they know, separate lives, feeling awkward and sad and yet cocky and on the verge of a new world:

"Well, Zocker," I said, belting him one on the arm, "don't take any wooden nickels."
"My mother has already warned me."
"And stay loose."
"I shall," he said. "I shall endeavor to try."
"Do endeavor so," I said, imitating him.
We shook hands. "Good-by," I said.
"Good-by, Euripedes."
"Good-by."
But neither of us moved.
"I hear you're an absolute angel," I said finally.
"I hear you're not," he said.
Then we both ran.


Maybe I remember it because it so closely resembled my own boyhood friendship with an unlikely companion.

From that point, the rest of the novel is less satisfying. Very believable characters start doing unbelievable things. Goldman is such a compelling writer, you tend to forgive that he lets the plot determine what he writes so that the characters don't quite fit in. I'd rather he let the characters determine the plot.

Goldman graduated from Oberlin in 1952, just five years before this book was published. I guess it's no surprise that the description of high school years was so vivid and true, while the adult behavior seems more imagined.

My quibbles are only quibbles. Any writer who creates a passage I can still remember after 40 years has done something rare and valuable. ( )
  JoeCottonwood | Mar 31, 2013 |
(Bantam Books #H2984) ( )
  marlojo | May 23, 2011 |
My personal Catcher in the Rye alternative ( )
  BCCJillster | May 9, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345439740, Paperback)

Acclaimed for such Academy Award—winning screenplays as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and such thrillers as Marathon Man, not to mention the bestselling classic The Princess Bride, William Goldman stands as one of the most beloved writers in America. But long before these triumphs, he caused a sensation with his brilliant first novel, a powerful story of reckless youth that was hailed as a worthy rival to The Catcher in the Rye.

THE TEMPLE OF GOLD

Ray Trevitt is coming of age in the American midwest of the late 1950s. Handsome, restless, eager to live life and to find his place in the world, Ray hurtles headlong through a young man’s rite of passage–searching for answers and somewhere to belong. What he discovers is that within friendships and love affairs, army tours and married life, victory and tragedy, lie the experiences that will shape his destiny, scar his soul, and ultimately teach him profound lessons he never expected.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:51 -0400)

"Ray Trevitt is coming of age in the American Midwest of the late 1950s. Handsome, restless, eager to live life and to find his place in the world, Ray hurtles headlong through a young man's rite of passage - searching for answers and somewhere to belong. What he discovers is that within friendships and love affairs, army tours and married life, victory and tragedy, lie the experiences that will shape his destiny, scar his soul, and ultimately teach him profound lessons he never expected."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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