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American Boy
by Larry Watson


Overview - "We were exposed to these phenomena in order that we might learn something, but of course the lessons we learn are not always what was intended."
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 small-town Willow Falls, Minnesota.
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More About American Boy by Larry Watson
 
 
 
Overview
"We were exposed to these phenomena in order that we might learn something, but of course the lessons we learn are not always what was intended."
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 small-town 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 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.
Immersive, heart-breaking, and richly evocative of a time and place, this long-awaited novel marks the return of a great American storyteller.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781571310781
  • ISBN-10: 1571310789
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publish Date: September 2011
  • Page Count: 251


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-08-29
  • Reviewer: Staff

Watson’s new novel about a young man’s coming-of-age in rural Minnesota during the early ’60s never veers off course. Working-class narrator Matthew Garth has always been treated well by best friend Johnny Dunbar’s well-to-do family, particularly by Johnny’s father, Dr. Dunbar. In the town of Willow Falls, the doctor’s wealth and commanding presence position him as a leader to some, but to others—including Matt’s mother—he remains an ostentatious outsider. He treats Louisa Lindahl, a young woman shot by her boyfriend (who later strangles himself while in custody); having “no resources and no place to go,” Louisa recuperates with the Dunbars and stays on to live and work with the family. Matt develops an infatuation for Louisa, but her own plans, about which the reader is never unaware, lead to explosive changes in Matt’s standing with the Dunbar family. Though the novel’s dénouement packs a punch, much about Matt, from episodes relating to women to his trajectory with the Dunbars, is foreshadowed to the point of draining the story of drama. Though Watson’s (Montana 1948) laconic prose fits the setting, his decision to telegraph every narrative turn is disappointing. (Oct.)

 
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