Wherever You Go, There They Are

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Wherever You Go, There They Are
320 pages; Blue Rider Press
"If someone asks what your father does," Annabelle Gurwitch's mother warned, don't answer them. It's hard to imagine a more in-your-face way for Gurwitch to disobey that instruction than by writing Wherever You Go, There They Are, a vivacious confessional about her early years as the daughter of a serial gambler, tax evader, and braggadocio who favored Mercedes-Benzes, iridescent polyester, and anyplace offering thin women and thick steaks.


Gurwitch's Jewish Alabamian father occupies as much space in the book as in life, whether he's hatching a doomed plan for a puppet theme park or bailing on Gurwitch's NYU tuition after falling victim to an FBI sting operation involving a sheikh, a yacht, and congressional bribes a.k.a. Abscam. Fortuitously, being raised by a hustler prepared Gurwitch for a life of acting and selling, whether as a bit player in TV movies, a reincarnation cult, or a pyramid scheme pushing skincare products.


But the memoir's madcap joy is the entire Gurwitch clan of scenery chewers, which extends beyond the patriarch. With her moonshine-smuggling forebears and her brothel matron great-grandmother, Gurwitch joins the shell-shocked ranks of dysfunctional-family chroniclers Augusten Burroughs and Sean Wilsey. While those authors faced real or threatened legal action by the subjects of their books, in the end Gurwitch lucked out in having a huckster for a father. When she asked if it was okay to write about him, he quickly answered, "If you think there's money in it, go for it."

— Natalie Beach