THE LYNCHING OF ORIN NEWFIELD
The Dial Press, NY, 1970.
Ballantine Books (paperback edition), NY, 1971.
W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd., London, 1972.
Coronet edition (paperback edition), London, 1974.
A New York Times Book Review “Notable Book of the Year”
Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize
A Publisher’s Note makes the following statement on the cover of an unusual pre-publication edition: “This is a specially bound advance reading copy of a major American novel by one of this country’s most accomplished writers. Gerald Jay Goldberg tells of a Vermont farmer caught in a web of violent retribution. A state of mind, a position of existence, a mode of this country, The Lynching of Orin Newfield is the examination of two intertwined yet opposed moralities, a tale of sequential events whose final end is absolutely logical and terrifyingly unpredictable.”
There was considerable Hollywood interest in The Lynching of Orin Newfield following its publication. One of those especially eager to bring Orin’s story to the screen was Jerry Harvey, the programming chief of Los Angeles’s legendary Z channel. Shortly before Harvey’s tragic death, he had arranged with Sam Peckinpah to direct the film. Among others who took options on The Lynching of Orin Newfield were Mace Neufeld and Buck Henry, Victor Drai Productions, and James B Harris. I was asked to write a screenplay of my novel and chose to write it in Paris on the rue de Berri, just down the block from where Thomas Jefferson once lived and a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe and Scott Fitzgerald’s apartment on the rue Tilsitt. One version of that screenplay was done for Universal Pictures, another is in the Moviescripts Collection of Bowling Green State University.
Praise for THE LYNCHING OF ORIN NEWFIELD:
--Despite my impatience with much of contemporary fiction,
I still find myself awed that Gerald Jay Goldberg has created a whole
man--not just an articulation of his exposed and vulnerable soul, or not
just one more “literary character,” but a full-bodied , hot-blooded,
ego-screaming, self-contained universe of a man. Newfield looms in one’s
own mind with such power as almost to defy the printed page. Newfield
is not larger than life, he is life…This is a very funny, very good,
and very honest novel.
--Gerald Jay Goldberg’s second book is a lusty meld
of irony, mockery and mirth; a compound of high and low, comedy and tragedy,
gravity and farce. And like all good novels, it is fundamentally subversive…For
Newfield is a threat: a debunker, a peeler of masks and flouter of mythologies.
The lines are clearly drawn: society versus the “stranger.”
A crotchety Meurseult, Newfield asks only to be left alone. But he is
too clear-headed, scornful, and blunt. “There’s a sonofabitch
force eating away at us, chomping on our days and dreams and swallowing
them up alive. And the damn fools call that God…Who betrayed his
only begotten son and would do no less for a stranger you can be sure.”
--This remarkable novel, set in a tiny Vermont farming
community called Farnum, is centered on an iron man named Orin Newfield,
who proves himself not only willing but able to blow up his world to satisfy
his desire for revenge. Orin--six feet four, and possessed of astonishing
strength and of an even more astonishing capacity for hard work-- has
made himself into one of the richest farmers in the area with the help
of his miserable wife, Alma, a childless woman whose good looks and good
cheer have been quite obliterated in the course of thirty-two years of
marriage to a trapped superman. Orin is much too big for Farnum, but old
ties, mainly grudges, hold him to his land, and in limiting himself he
has deformed himself. The tension and clarity of Mr. Goldberg’s
writing leave us no choice but to follow his raging anti-hero’s
story from the comparatively mild beginning to the thundering finish.
It is impossible to like Orin, but to ignore him is unthinkable.
--[starred review] A skillful horror tale with peripheral
sociological and philosophical emanations, which oddly enough, gains,
rather than loses, from the same caustic bite Goldberg applied in the
satirical The National Standard (1968). Orin Newfield, a strenuously
successful dairy farmer in the town of Farnum, Vermont, and an Ahab with
a mouth like a cow shed, is driven by a rage of cosmic dimensions…A
high altitude performance, at the close of which the glittering windshields
of New York invaders indicate an end to archetypal Yankee enclosures.
The Last Puritan--with an extra Y chromosome.
--In this satire about a paranoid yet apparently normal,
honest and successful dairy farmer in northern Vermont, the author of
The National Standard reveals an aspect of the region that few
skiers have ever seen…The pace is fast, the style crisp, and the
characters sharply drawn.
--Now, thanks to Gerald Jay Goldberg, we have another strong
and crazy hero, Orin Newfield, both of his environment and superior to
it--as repellent as he is charming, as engaging as he is nuts…The
traditional American Gothic elements are here; spookiness mixed with New
England austerity, sexuality with prudishness. Newfield is tempted not
only by the whorish widow lady, but by a modern witch--who may leave her
beer cans on his lawn, but who goes back to those American harpies in
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s early stories, particularly “Young Goodman
Brown.” Newfield himself is excellent as a character; his mind is
complex, his language is fresh, unexpected, and seems unerringly to come
from his own lips.
--A compelling account of a violent eccentric at odds with
almost the whole local community where he lives in rural Vermont who comes
through very distinctly as a barbaric force of nature.