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Heaven's My Destination

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  236 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Drawing on such unique sources as the author’s unpublished letters, business records, and obscure family recollections, Tappan Wilder’s Afterword adds a special dimension to the reissue of this hilarious tale about goodness in a fallen world.

Meet George Marvin Brush—Don Quixote come to Main Street in the Great Depression, and one of Thornton Wilder’s most memorable charact
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1935)
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Apr 14, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: humour
An amusing and not too well known tale of one of literature's innocents; George Marvin Brush. It is set in the depression era of the 1930s. The novel might be said to be picaresque and there is a touch of the tilting at windmills about it (Brush is only a very little like Don Quixote and there is no Sancho Panza).
Brush is a travelling textbook salesman, who has his own particular brand of Christianity, which he tries to share. The novel has been described as a satire on fundamentalist/evangelica
Allie Riley
Feb 20, 2013 Allie Riley rated it liked it
A quick read (I mislaid my copy for a long while). Parts were funny and parts were exasperating. I'm not exactly sure what it is Wilder was trying to say about this particular brand of evangelicalism. The central character, George Brush, a travelling salesman with very particular religious views (an amalgam of a particular interpretation of the Bible and Gandhi) is odd yet sincere. His ethics seem to rile people no end and he is often arrested for the situations which arise from this conflict. O ...more
Sep 08, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it
Wilder, Thornton. HEAVEN’S MY DESTINIATION. (1935). ****. This is a different kind of novel for Wilder. Set in Depression America, it chronicles the travels of it’s traveling salesman hero. On meeting anyone, our hero always provides the necessary information about himself. For example, when he visits a summer camp for young students, one of the women there approaches him:

“What’s your name?” she asked.
“George arvin Brush. I was born in Michigan. I’m a traveling salesman in school books. I came
May 12, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
4 1/2 stars. More so than any author I know, Wilder has the ability to find the universal in the specific, the humor in the sadness, and the sadness in the humor. This book about the birth, death, and resurrection of one man's religious convictions contains some of the greatest laughs I've ever encountered in literature and some truly painful pathos (Although, no pathos is the world of Wilder could ever top Esteban's experiences in "Bridge of San Luis Rey.") What's so amazing is how fair Wilder ...more
Sam Torode
Jun 05, 2013 Sam Torode rated it it was amazing
Thornton Wilder's funniest work, and one of my favorite books ever. I've read it 3 or 4 times now, and get more out of it each time. It carries a lot of personal meaning for me, and was a major influence on my own novel.
Jun 17, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it
Loved it. Don Quijote meets the Bible Belt.
Mar 17, 2017 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Candide in Kansas City.
Feb 25, 2014 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, american-lit
"George Brush is my name;
America's my nation;
Ludington's my dweling place
And Heaven's my destination."
(Epigraph for the novel)

An informed and realistic look at the struggles of the depression era, Heaven's My Destination is a comic picaresque tale that defies categorization. It was Wilder's fourth novel and second after the wildly popular The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The hero of the story, George Brush, is an other-worldly figure whose single-minded pursuit of a philosophy that seems like pure ho
Aug 13, 2013 Gale rated it liked it

Say there, young man: Are you feeling Unfit for Society? Battling with Depression? Socially persecuted because of your ideals? Well, take heart because you are not alone! George Brush has walked down that lonely path in life himself.

Both as playwright and novelist, Thornton Wilder captures the essence of human nature--revealing its hesitant yearnings and poignant humiliations in the daily struggle for recognition in an indifferent world. Despite the almost humorous
Feb 16, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
"Heaven's My Destination" is a rather unexpected novel. I read it quickly, although I found the book to be "slow", and after it was done it stuck with me for quite some time. That seems to be the motif for my reading of Wilder's novels.
And I love them!
I am a little disappointed at how many reviewers want to call this book a satire, despite the fact that Mr. Wilder went to great lengths to point out that the novel is not a satire at all. The story follows a fundamentalist traveling salesman named
Dec 29, 2016 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
Although one of the lesser known Wilder novels, Heaven's My Destination addresses some common themes in Wilder's work, including struggles with faith and the difficulty of connecting or communicating with others. George Brush is a highly religious traveling book salesman who is just out of college. His strict adherence to religious dogma gets him into trouble as he chides smokers and drinkers, refuses to accept interest on his investments (and ultimately rejects banks altogether), and tries to c ...more
Jan 13, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
Four and a half because this is a peculiar little book. The intro and afterword are excellent. Thornton Wilder is a complicated man! At first i thought this was going to be a Charles Portis type of satire of the disingenuous, the bumptious baptist full of good news and met with bad faith, and it plays that way at first, with George Brush the butt of the joke. I wonder also if Winston Groom had read this book... However, things start to get complicated with the introduction and influence of gandh ...more
Clark Knowles
Sep 13, 2014 Clark Knowles rated it it was amazing
A very funny book about a traveling salesman named George Brush. He's naive and optimistic and single-minded in his approach to life. He is a recently converted Christian who also believes that Ghandi had the answers to the world's problems. He meets and talks with people all along his route--gets in trouble with pretty much every person and institution he meets because of his goodness and adherence to his own principals. He's driven by unswerving faith at all times. He meets regular Americans w ...more
Oct 22, 2013 Wayne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the curious
Recommended to Wayne by: "The Bridge of San Luis Rey

It was a surprise
AND a pleasure
just to see how the majority of Americans in this book
ABSOLUTELY loathed, hated and reviled
its Bible-bashing, fundamentalist hero.

But of course Thornton Wilder
and he wouldn't let us, either.
George Brush (just a little too close to "George Bush" for me,)
is a likeable hero
and by the end of the book he has...
well, read it.

Having ONLY read Wilder's MARVELLOUS "The Bridge Of San Luis Rey"
6 TIMES !!!!
I really thought it about time to extend my repertoire
and so
Dec 20, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2009 Marvin rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Written & set during the Great Depression, this novel features a young (22), idealistic traveling textbook salesman, who was converted to Christianity while at a Baptist college in North Dakota. He works hard to live his faith & his ideals that are not typical of evangelicals, including pacifism & something he calls "voluntary poverty"; he has been strongly influenced by Ghandi's example. His outspokenness & innocence repeatedly land him in trouble & earn the resentment of ma ...more
Apr 15, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing
It's hard to choose one or even a couple main themes in Heaven's My Destination to discuss. There is so much going on in this book, though many critics say it is unimportant and silly. The main character George Brush is America...America at a time when it was hard to be American, during the Great Depression. Religion, morals and individuality all play major roles in the development of Brush throughout the novel to the point of almost eminent physical, social and emotional demise. It is Brush's r ...more
Alex Stroshine
Jan 04, 2016 Alex Stroshine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I had a theory before I read "Heaven's My Destination." From the synopsis on the back cover, I was expecting an "Elmer Gantry" redux. Alas, this is not that kind of novel. While the protagonist, George Brush, is indeed a meticulously moral fellow, he's not that much of a Bible-thumper compared to the Rev. Gantry. As several other reviewers point out, Brush is also heavily indebted to Gandhi for his weltanschauung and but his strict opposition to alcohol, tobacco and war make him more like an ide ...more
Nov 08, 2015 Pascale rated it liked it
George Brush is a great character, and I enjoyed being both as frustrated and enchanted by him as most of the people he meets during his tribulations. His portrayal is calibrated in such a way that he is a likable fanatic. It's a pity that after his marriage to Roberta, the story speeds up and becomes far less detailed, but I like the fact that after this big melt-down, he starts behaving in the same way all over again. Wilder's point is that we are the way we are, and for better or worse, will ...more
Jan 24, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
Not having read Wilder thanks to the too many high school productions of "Our Tonw" each title I read by him now is a bit of a revelation. Written in the same time period, this reminds me an awful lot of a N West novel - the naive, good hearted individual brought to understand the ways of the world.

Nephew and literay rexecutor Tappan Wilder and his wife seem to have a hold on the whole "Wilder industry", but his notes and added material at the end of each volume in this series is appreciated.
Aug 22, 2011 Churchlady rated it really liked it
Set in the 30's, this book is told from one young man's point of view as he strives to live out his faith in a fallen world. It's a commentary on the value of the faith community. We're simply not meant to have to walk this journey without others to encourage, support, and correct erroneous thinking. Christians simply need the church to stay balanced and upright in the midst of confusing times and circumstances.
Jul 18, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Definitely an interesting read. Reading it brought waves of discomfort, like watching early episodes of The Office and cringe-laughing every time Michael Scott opens his mouth. I've never read anything by Thornton Wilder before, and I loved the way he wrote this; his writing style is (unsurprisingly and probably redundantly) stunning. I liked this, and I loved the way the picaresque narrative worked in it.The ending felt rushed, but it did fit the plot well.
Jul 26, 2014 Tina rated it really liked it
I love Thornton Wilder, but somehow had never gotten around to reading this book. It was thought-provoking and, unexpectedly, hilarious. George Brush ostentatiously tries to lead a good and moral life, and ends up exasperating or enraging the people around him--he is always getting beaten up, told off, or arrested. The courtroom chapter is priceless.
Jonathan Rosenbaum
May 25, 2014 Jonathan Rosenbaum rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest of comic American novels, and I continue to be amazed that more readers aren't familiar with it. Like Thornton Wilder's other comic works, it's also very, very serious, and it paints a very memorable and picaresque account of Depression America. It could make a swell movie, but who's around (or who's left) who could direct it?
Charles Dee Mitchell
Mar 24, 2010 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-fiction
This book should be more read than it seems to be. It's a sort of picaresque novel of a young man whose religious conversion has made him unbearable to most of those he meets, and whose conviction's and ideas can land him in either the hospital or jail. The dialog, and the book is almost entirely dialog, is funny and the characters all perfectly captured.
Dec 02, 2014 Jean rated it liked it
A lovely book, of a time and place very different from ours. The friend who introduced me to this book says it's not at all well-known; what a pity! (Also, the protagonist reminded me strongly of the late lamented Dave Carter. Anybody know if he was a fan?)
Kate Blumenthal
Aug 07, 2014 Kate Blumenthal rated it it was amazing
This is quite an amazing book. I am in the camp of those who view it as a masterpiece. I can't do it justice in a review. The emotional landscape is somewhere between Candide, Don Quixote and Canterbury Tales. I really liked the hero, even while he was driving me crazy.
Mar 24, 2016 Estott rated it it was ok
I am in the minority, but while I found this book readable, after two years I can hardly recall the plot - except that I found the leading character quirky. Not quirky in an interesting sense but in an annoying sense. If I had him as my traveling companion I'd change my seat.
Feb 04, 2012 Karen rated it did not like it
Did not enjoy this novel at all, my first foray into Thornton Wilder, and probably my last. :(
Jul 30, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Hilarious and a good read. George Brush is the Forrest Gump of the depression era.
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Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.

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