Larry Watson, Author Milkweed Editions $17.95 (228p) ISBN 978-1-57131-002-6
Montana 1948, Watson's previous novel, was a sleeper that booksellers boosted to major sales. In this finely crafted prequel to that book, Watson fleshes out the lives of county sheriff Julian Hayden and his Montana clan. As the episodic narrative opens, in 1924, Hayden's spoiled, headstrong, horny teenage sons, Wesley and Frank, get involved in a foolish escapade in North Dakota. Thrown into a freezing jail cell, they discover that even their politically connected father's influence has its limits. The story then doubles back to 1899 and Julian's frontier life as a struggling homesteader and rancher, newly resettled from Iowa with his widowed mother. As the action gradually moves into the 1930s, Wesley, now a sensitive and softhearted but troubled man, succeeds his father as county sheriff. Hoping to break her husband loose from the influence of his arrogant, domineering father, Wesley's levelheaded wife, Gail, tries to get him to open up, to show affection toward their infant son. Surprises and scenes of dramatic power punctuate the narrative, as when newlywed Julian pulls a gun on his hostile father-in-law, or when Len McAuley, Julian's hawk-faced, drunken deputy, burns with unrequited love for Gail. Throughout, Watson writes with ruthless honesty about his characters' stunted dreams, unpredictable emotions and outbursts of senseless violence, showing once again that he understands not only the West but the untamed hearts that have roamed it. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/1994
Release date: 12/01/1994
Analog Audio Cassette - 252 pages - 978-0-671-53645-9
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-7838-1605-0
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-671-53557-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-04466-4
Paperback - 232 pages - 978-1-57131-092-7
Open Ebook - 241 pages - 978-1-57131-847-3
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