Read: Let Him Go by Larry Watson, 2013, 9781571311023.
Someone I follow online listed this as one of the top five books she read in 2013. The novel is pretty dang good but I cannot help but feel that as a non-writer I am missing out on things that Watson does. Watson packs a lot into a short novel.
Short version: Grandparents in North Dakota drive to Montana to try and get their dead son's wife to move back to ND with their grandson, Jimmy.
Long version: Grandmother in North Dakota is intent on either getting her former daughter-in-law to come back to North Dakota or let Jimmy, the grandson, live with the grandparents in North Dakota. She is going no matter what and when her husband, George, comes home doing lunch the car is packed and the house shut down. He can join her or stay.
Lorna their former daughter-in-law has married a shiftless guy. Donnie Weboy is a ratty stepdad. They up and left for Donnie's home state of Montana without a forwarding address. Margaret and George drive to one town and ask around. They end up in a second town, Gladstone,
The Weboy's do not have a good reputation. M&G find a Weboy uncle and say they want to see Jimmy. The uncle is a slick acting guy. He's shiny veneer with rot underneath. M&G visit the remote Weboy farmhouse and meet Blanche the matriarch. Blanche is a spider. A smile plastered on her face and what seems to be a streak of cruelty driving her actions.
M&G do not get along with the Weboys. Tension covers the dinner table and a fight almost breaks out. M&G meet Lorna in Gladstone during her lunch break and ask her to return with them. Lorna is not a good mom. Marilyn knows she'll just as soon give Jimmy up and go on her way.
Blanche and brood hear all about it, of course. Blanche and brood force themselves into M&G's motel cabin. Blanche makes her character and needs clear. Uncle Veneer pulls a hatchet and Blanche's two other sons hold George down. George can now wear factory second gloves. The Weboys tell them to leave town.
George in the hospital for several days. Blanche is the good frienid and former lover of the Sheriff. The DA tells them to get out of town and he won't press charges on George. Margaret makes fast and good friends with a hospital nurse. George gets out of hospital and they start to leave town. Instead, George drives to the shack of a young Indian man they met a couple days ago.
Margaret awakes to George driving off. George goes to the Weboy house. George holds a gun on Donnie and he tells Lorna this is her last chance to leave. Lorna takes the Weboy car. George burns the house down. George also dies.
Margaret tells Friend the Nurse that she knows Lorna will have her head turned soon enough and run off with the handsomest car she can get. Margaret will be left to care for Jimmy but declares herself fit to the task.
1. A sharp look at the long relationship and marriage between Margaret and George and how well they simultaneously get along and tolerate one another. Margaret is driven and purposeful. George is more laid back and accepting and willing to wait on things. The band together under the stress but the fractures are still there.
2. Blanche came across as pretty evil. To Blanche Jimmy is property and a tool to exert power. She controls the Weboys and since Jimmy now lives at the Weboy ranch he is Weboy property. At one point Blanche says to Margaret that if the tables were turned Margaret would act the same. I don't see that. Blanche may have developed an emotional attachment to Jimmy - a heavy emphasis on may - but Jimmy showed up with the new daughter-in-law only a month ago. Jimmy is a way to start a fight.
3. The tension of the Weboys forcing their way into the hotel room made me stop reading.
4. Watson is a writer with skill. He puts a lot of emotion and character into 269 pages. The book feels even shorter. Nothing rings dull in here.
5. "Rings dull"? What the hell does that mean? Where did I get that from?