By Larry Watson
(Milkweed Editions, Hardcover, 9781571310781, 224pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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We were exposed to these phenomena in order that we might learn something, but of course the lessons we learn are not always those we are taught . . .
So begins Matthew Garth’s story of the fall of 1962, when the shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events in Willow Falls, Minnesota. Matthew first sees Louisa Lindahl in Dr. Dunbar’s home office, and at the time her bullet wound makes nearly as strong an impression as her unclothed body. Fueled over the following weeks by his feverish longing for this mysterious womanas well as by a deep desire for the comfort and affluence that appears to surround the DunbarsMatthew finds himself drawn into a series of confrontations he never expected, the results of which will change his life irrevocably and give lie to his version of the American dream.
Immersive, heartbreaking, and richly evocative of time and place, this long-awaited new novel marks the return of a great American storyteller.
[Watson will] harvest a bumper crop of readers this autumn.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
[Watson] spins charm and melancholy around the same fingers, the result a soft but urgent rendering of a young man coming of age in rural America that is recognizable to even those of us who were never there.”Denver Post
Watson has penned some of the best contemporary fiction about small-town America, and his new novel does not disappoint. . . . With his graceful writing style, well-drawn characters, and subtly moving plot, Watson masterfully portrays the dark side of small-town America. Highly readable and enthusiastically recommended.”Library Journal (starred review)
Eighteen years ago, Milkweed published Watson’s breakthrough novel, Montana 1948; now the author returns to Milkweed with another powerful coming-of-age story about a teenage boy [Matthew Garth] being shocked into maturity by a moment of sudden and unexpected violence. . . . Like Holden Caulfield trying to catch innocent children before they fall off the cliff adjoining that field of rye, Matthew struggles to save the Dunbars and, in so doing, save himself. He fails, of course, but that’s the point of much of Watson’s always melancholic, always morally ambiguous fiction: coming-of-age is about failure as much as it is about growth.”Booklist (starred review)
Watson’s new novel about a young man’s coming-of-age in rural Minnesota during the early ’60s never veers off course.”Publishers Weekly
There are a handful of writers I push on everyone I meet, and Larry Watson is one of them. For the past twenty years has quietly penned some of the wisest, most powerful novels in my library, and I am thrilled to make room on the shelf for his latest, a gripping, poignant coming-of-age story that opens with a gunshot that will ultimately bury its bullet in your heart. American Boy is an American classic.”Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh
Larry Watson’s latest book, American Boy, may be his best yet. With the patient skill of a seasoned writer, Watson tells an engaging coming-of-age story of a young man in Willow Falls, Minnesota during the 1960s. Youthful passions, heartbreaks, loyalties and moral uncertainties are all rendered in vivid color.”David Rhodes, author of Driftless