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American Boy

Larry Watson


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (7/17/2012)

October 2011 Indie Next List

“Pure. Simple. Classic. Little more needs to be said about Larry Watson's utterly breathtaking coming-of-age novel featuring two high school chums, Johnny Dunbar and Matthew Garth. This novel takes a fresh look at that time of life, the teen years, when everything happens so suddenly and with such ferociousness -- a time of intensity, immediacy, and raw emotions. Watson captures it all in this wonderful novel. I recommend it without reserve to every reader who appreciates life and fine literature.”
— Nancy Simpson, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA
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The author of the acclaimed Montana 1948 "spins charm and melancholy" in this novel of youth and romantic rivalry in 1960s rural Minnesota (Denver Post).

Willow Falls, Minnesota, 1962. The shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events in the life of seventeen-year-old Matthew Garth. A close friend of the prosperous Dunbar family, Matthew is present in Dr. Dunbar's home office when the victim is brought in. The sight of Louisa Lindahl--beautiful and mortally wounded--makes an indelible impression on the young man.

Fueled by his feverish desire for this mysterious woman and a deep longing for the comfort and affluence that appears to surround the Dunbars, Matthew finds himself drawn into a vortex of greed, manipulation, and ultimately betrayal. Larry Watson's tale heart-breaking tale "resonates with language as clear and images as crisp as the spare, flat prairie of its Minnesota setting" (Kirkus Reviews).

An Esquire Best Book of 2011

Praise For American Boy

[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

Milkweed Editions, 9781571310781, 224pp.

Publication Date: September 13, 2011