Review by Mack Hassler
The self-publishing of one’s work can, now and then, lead to books that are very strange and that hardly fit into any pattern of literature. I Married a Troll: My Husband Married a Yooper is a nicely printed and well-bound, tidy book in appearance. At the back of the book, also, Goloversic lists and describes much more writing that she has done that ranges from fiction to self-help non-fiction to various versions of this non-fiction autobiography of her marriage. Apparently, the original manuscript was done a number of years ago on a manual typewriter. Later everything had to be converted to digital format so that Author House could make the present volume. Much of what the reader works through in reading the book is a narrative of this writing process, an inside look at the development of all of the writing by Goloversic, rather than a coherent narrative of her marriage. But by reading carefully, the reader can sort out that she has been married a long time and that fairly late in the marriage she decided to leave the elementary and “substitute” teaching work that she had been trained to do and to set out on a writing career. Along the way, this massive tale of the problems and complexities in producing text at the same time as her day-to-day life with her good marriage evolves. As her reviewer, I had a terrible time sorting out these two narrative lines. The marriage itself has been long-lasting and successful. The production of a coherent text about her life in writing is a very different story.
Any effective writing (large batches of prose as well as small poems such as sonnets) depends on shape, organization and focus—a sonnet usually is built on a contrast between the first eight lines and the next six lines. This book, as I mention above, has no clear organization or shape. Rather it is a hodgepodge of notes among which at any point the reader is not sure what is being talked about – the writing process or the marriage. Further, any effective writing must, also, have embedded within it some effort at “meaning” or idea. Goloversic saturates the book with Bible references so that the reader can suspect that she believes a lot of in the “grace” or the unearned help from God for the success of her marriage and her writing. This is left by her as just a suggestion sprinkled like salt and pepper, or as an inference. So what is lacking in this thick volume is both a clear shape or organization as well as a coherent argument of the meaning of it all. I think these two classic elements of rhetoric are needed in her work.
I am fairly sure that her family, and especially her husband, will be proud of this handsome volume; and the other writings that are cataloged at the back of the book will be kept proudly by the family. For the general readership, however, and especially for books about marriage and about autobiography as well as about the grace of God (very worthy and important topics indeed) the book is not very effective. I think basic rhetoric that can be sorted out rationally is as important for a literature as inner motivation and the discovery that one wants to be a writer and that one wants to celebrate a good marriage. Generating a literature can be a tough business. It is disappointing, but understandable, that in this case Author House, a vanity press, has not advised Goloversic of this fact.
Actually what surprises me in I Married a Troll: My Husband Married a Yooper is how very supportive the husband is of his wife’s strong urge to write. He buys her computers and gets her the advice to learn the technology. What I look for is a bit more coherence and chronology of how this fits into the overall marriage and into their strong Christian faith. She refers always to him as “Jim” and he appears on nearly every page—clearly her “good angel” and partner in her efforts to write.
I Married a Troll; My Husband Married a Yooper, by Mary Brandt Goloversic (Author House, Bloomington IN, 2020), 560 pages, paper, n.p,