Life-changing epiphanies and visions shake residents to their core in a small town with a large name. Susan Woodring's “Goliath” (St. Martin's Press, $24.99) plumbs the aftermath of serious deeds while positing that simplicity has deep roots. There are no simple lives.
A troubled teen sees the dark light after finding the town's leading citizen dead on the railroad tracks. Intended as a private exit, the suicide triggers far-ranging consequences in a town where fine furniture has been made for 100 years.
While residents reel with morbid conjecture, high school girls write and distribute suicide poetry, disenfranchised souls align their angst for collective destruction, and the dead man's lover spirals into insane coping mechanisms. Lost and found show up to make their claims on other lost and found. A once successful business fails as the town collapses inward out.
Woodring is a benevolent creator who bestows her characters with believable dimension, dialogue and motivation. “Goliath” presents a minuscule picture of how each is joined by unseen filaments that warm or inflame.
Free will is the thing. Some use it for ill while others try to restore the town's ailing soul. Various means are tried. A baseball field and teams are revived after years without. A parade cranks up after years of going parade-less. An invitation is sent to an aging movie star who once lived there.