Sundown, Yellow Moon

Larry Watson, Author . Random $25.95 (309p) ISBN 978-0-375-50722-9

The unnamed, not-entirely-reliable narrator of this novel of obsession from Watson (In a Dark Time ) aims his imaginative faculties at discovering, through fiction, the truth of an incident from his adolescence in Bismarck, N.Dak. In trying to figure out why, in 1961, his best friend’s father shot a state senator and then hanged himself, the writer tries out a number of different scenarios via short fictions and simple speculation, including mental illness, romantic rivalry, a festering real estate swindle and a looming corruption scandal. The fictions-within-a-fiction are a clever conceit, but ponderous discussion of the pieces weakens it. More problematic is that the specifics of the larger tale aren’t engineered to go as far as Watson wants to take them. The book’s greatest strength, alongside its palpable sense of place, is its rich period detail—including the inescapability of cigarette smoking, in which nearly every character hungrily indulges. But even the narrator’s own mother, initially absorbed by the case, loses interest in it rather swiftly, so it should be no surprise that the relentless analysis of minutiae comes to feel like harping. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/18/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-375-75853-9
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 159 pages - 978-1-58836-819-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next