Cover image for Gone boy : a walkabout
Gone boy : a walkabout
Gibson, Gregory, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Kodansha International, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 273 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6534.G73 G53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HV6534.G73 G53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Ths story of a father's search for truth after his son's murder, "Gone Boy" offers a commanding inquiry into guns, violence, and manhood in America.

Author Notes

Gregory Gibson is an antiquarian book dealer who lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

On a December night in 1992, the author's 18-year-old son was killed by a delusional student on a shooting spree at Simon's Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In an effort to fit this awful fact into his reality, the author spends subsequent years asking questions: Why did the killer, a quiet student named Wayne Lo, do it? Could the college have protected his son better? Gibson, an antiquarian bookseller by trade, seeks inspiration in the steely heroes of Lee Marvin films as he takes copious notes during the trial and personally interviews many of the story's key players: witnesses, victims, even the gun dealer, and the gun's previous owner. Near the end, he describes an emotional but ultimately healing visit with Wayne Lo's parents. Part detective story, part "walkabout" (a term suggested by the author's friend for a drunk's rambling monologue), Gibson's tender, compelling, and well-written memoir closes with the acknowledgment that there are not one but two "gone boys" in this tragic story. --James Klise

Publisher's Weekly Review

The recent rash of school shootings makes Gibson's heartbreaking book as timely as it is good. Shortly before Christmas in 1992, an alienated, angry student named Wayne Lo went on a shooting rampage at Simon's Rock College in western Massachusetts, wounding four people and killing two, one of whom was Gibson's 18-year-old son, Galen. While grieving, Gibson embarked on what he calls a "walkabout," a search for the truth about his son's death: "I would concentrate on the details, the facts, and trust that their greater meaning would emerge, of its own accord, in the end. It never occurred to me to doubt that there was a greater meaning." At first, there was Lo's trial to occupy him, followed by a civil suit against the college. Gibson writes honestly about the rage that consumed him for the first few years after Galen's death. In a remarkable chapter, he describes a conversation with Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, which owns Simon's Rock, in which he realized that assigning blame would serve no practical or spiritual purpose. Not that human fallibility didn't play a huge role in Galen's death: Gibson makes a compelling argument that Simon's Rock administrators had more than enough warning signs to prevent the tragedy. Lo's high-school teachers knew he was troubled. So did his college teachers. And his college friends and administrators knew he had a gun and ammunition. What makes this book special, and what distinguishes it from the blizzard of 30-second explanations and 800-word op-ed pieces on teen violence, is the way in which Gibson transcends his rage and becomes capable of mounting a searching, informative and ultimately deeply moving exploration into the combination of causality and randomness that surrounds his son's death. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

On December 14, 1992, during a shooting rampage at Simon's Rock College, Gibson's 18-year-old son, Galen, was shot and killed. In the aftermath, Gibson, an antiquarian bookseller in Gloucester, MA, embarked on this "walkabout" in order to make sense of his grief. His son's murder, he writes, was "a terrible blow and the greatest teaching the world had to offer. It was God's Will, but it had happened in the world and so it had causes....I figured out that if I concentrated on the worldly chain of causes I might finally work my way up to the God's Will part." In the course of his inquiry into guns, violence, privacy, and responsibility, Gibson decides that the real lesson is that we have to find forgiveness and "take the energy this horrible thing had released and turn it around somehow and send it back out there, clean, so the world might be a better place for it." An emotionally moving, important story; recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries.ÄRobert C. Jones, formerly of Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Sick of It All I always had a knack for making plans. Not long-range plans, but an endless supply of existential ones, in an ongoing calculus of strategy. Whenever the situation changed there'd be a new plan. Sometimes there were several in an hour.     So, it was not surprising that, when the dean of my son's college called, late on a Monday night in mid-December of 1992, and told me there'd been a terrible accident at the college, and that my son had been shot and killed, I soon had a plan.     At first I could not speak. I handed the telephone to Annie, my wife, and as I stood there, gasping for breath, the idea came to me. I was going to drive out to the college and bring Galen back. I was going to spread out his old sleeping bag in the back of the van and lay his body on it. I was going to get the body and bring it home so we could clean it up and bury it, so we could wash those bullet holes with our tears. Three hours out and three hours back. I'd be home by dawn. That was the level at which I was capable of planning.     Annie put the telephone down and walked to one end of the hall, then back, a wild, distracted look about her. This was not one of those revelatory moments in which husbands and wives learn deep truths about one another. Shock had driven us down inside ourselves. The truth was more physical. Annie was standing beside me, as she had been for eighteen years.     She picked the phone up again and called her mother, who gently pointed out to me that my proper place during this time of crisis was at home with my family, not at the other end of the state trying to haul the corpse out of a murder investigation. So I stayed home that night, with Annie and our son Brooks and our daughter, Celia.     Initially, the news of Galen's death was so enormous that we could not assimilate it in any meaningful way. We stumbled woodenly around the house, trying to make the necessary phone calls to relatives and friends. Brooks, a sophomore in high school, went out for a long drive with another boy. We let Celia, our baby, have one last night of untroubled sleep. She was nine years old, the special pet of eighteen-year-old Galen.     We could not cry. We kept telling ourselves that it was a mistake, that it had happened to someone else. We kept thinking, throughout that long and terrible night, that in the morning we'd wake and it all would have been a dream. But when the morning came, it brought a deluge of news reports. Our waking nightmare became common knowledge--an absurd violation and an inescapable fact. Galen was dead. The radio said so.     Somehow, on the small, sleepy campus of Simon's Rock College, a student had gone crazy. Somehow, he'd ordered bullets through the mail. Then he'd gone to a local gun shop and bought a military-style semiautomatic rifle. Somehow he got the gun back onto school grounds undetected. At about 10:15 on the evening of Monday, December 14, 1992, he began walking through the campus, shooting people. First he shot and seriously wounded the guard at the front gate. Then he murdered a professor driving past. Then he walked to the library, where he murdered Galen and wounded another student. Then he wounded two more students. Then, somehow, he surrendered and was arrested, unharmed. His name was Wayne Lo. He'd emigrated from Taiwan six years before.     Beyond establishing the place and time of our son's death, these few stark facts were of little use to Annie and me. We desperately needed an exact account of how this terrible thing had come to pass, but we got no word from anyone on the scene. Our imagining of the event took the form of a grotesque cartoon, drawn from the terse hyperbole of news reports.     Thus Galen had died in a "campus shooting spree" at his "exclusive Berkshires school." The killer was a "troubled, angry youth ... an outcast." He "proceeded across the snowy paths ... panic in his wake" and "sent a blast into Gibson's chest." Galen "staggered to the front desk ... blood soaking through his shirt, and cried, `I've been shot.'"     The report ended with "steel-gray hearses" removing the bodies at dawn and with Wayne Lo being taken into police custody. His head was shaved, and he was wearing a sweatshirt on which was printed the motto "Sick of It All." This version of what had happened raised more questions than it answered, but we were too stunned to ask them. Copyright © 1999 Gregory Gibson. All rights reserved.