Larry Watson has a way of stripping a story to its essence without sacrificing either beauty or emotion. His latest novel, Let Him Go, is a story of families, of mothers and sons, and of the unpredictability of human behavior,
In the bleak fall of 1951, Margaret Blackledge, still grieving over the death of her grown son, James, is almost done in when her daughter-in-law marries a man of questionable reputation and leaves town, taking her young boy with her. Margaret cannot bear the loss of her last living link with James and sets off across North Dakota, accompanied by her husband, to bring their grandson home.
In his signature spare style, Watson tells us of the confrontation between two families, as worn and battered as their native northern Plains, who are pushed to the limits in their unwavering need to hold on their own. Watson's unerring observations and well-tuned pacing are brilliantly showcased in this stunning and shocking story of what we can and cannot live with.
On the northern Plains:
The sun has dropped low enough to bring up the colors in the prairie grasses, the shades of lavender and gold that can't be seen at any other moment of the day and that incline most travelers through this landscape to silence. Gospel hour indeed. (p. 30, uncorrected proof)On the boy:
A four-year-old has so little past, and he remembers almost none of it, neither the father he once had nor the house where he once lived. But he can feel absences--and feel them as sensation, like a texture that was once at his fingers every day but now is gone and no matter how he gropes or reaches his hand he cannot touch what's no longer there. (p. 115, uncorrected proof)Let Him Go was my pick for the September "Bloggers Recommend" newsletter, is an Indie Next pick, and has earned many starred reviews. It will likely be my top read of 2013.
Milkweed Editions, 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
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