Thursday, January 12, 2017

First of the Year: "Willnot" by James Sallis

First of the Year: Willnot by James Sallis, 2016, 9781632864529.

Lamar Hill is a small town doctor/surgeon dealing with the daily health ills of his patients in Willnot. The novel begins with Lamar responding to a mass grave outside of town that holds several bodies. Former child patient and now Marine sniper Bobby appears and acts mysteriously. A FBI Agent and a reporter show up separately and ask the doctor about the former patient.

Bobby gets shot with a .22 and tells Lamar that, "an old friend was saying 'hi'." Bobby slips away from the hospital and travels in and out of town of Willnot and the surrounding woods without being spotted.

Lamar treats heart attacks and removes appendices. Lamar's teacher  husband Richard worries over one of his students with lots of intelligence and a tough home life. Plenty of things happen but the action barely involves Lamar. He is just living his life, working a lot, and only slightly wondering what is going on with Bobby and the FBI.

Lamar ponders on life and death. He reminisces on his famous scifi writer father who died several years ago. He hardly ever talks about his mother and sister and Richard calls him on it - I'm left wondering about that with only a couple clues to make me make wild guesses.

The plot is like taking a mystery or thriller novel and only focusing on the secondary characters like Lamar. Hell, the plot does not matter. Lamar is just a local dude dedicated to his work and possessing a strong moral and ethical center. This is what I'll call an experience novel: you follow the character around and learn about the guy, his life and the small city he lives in.

I suppose this could be a literary novel. There is a small bit of action towards the end. That's about it.

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