is reading Montana 1948 by Larry Watson for December Book Club.
Acclaimed author Larry Watson's novel, Montana 1948 transports the reader to another time and place with its clear, honest and sparse writing. The year is 1948 in Bentrock, Montana where an event takes place which leads to decisions that change a family's life forever. The novel begins with these powerful words from the main character, 12-year-old David Hayden. "From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting than any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fade them..."
David’s life is turned upside down after a local Indian girl is raped by the local town's doctor that happens to be David's father's brother. The crime turns his family members against one another. The sheriff, David’s father, must decide between justice and his brother’s life.
Ethics, morality, justice and family loyalty are some of the issues explored in this coming of age book. This small book's story will stay with you long after you have finished it.
"I did not -- do not -- believe in the purity and certainty of the study of history. Not at all. I find history endlessly amusing, knowing as I do, that the record of any human community might omit stories of sexual abuse, murder, suicide...Who knows -- perhaps any region's most dramatic, most sensational stories were not played out in the public view but were confined to small, private places. A doctor's office. A white frame house on a quiet street. So no matter what the historical documents might say, I feel free to augment them with whatever lurid or comical fantasy my imagination might concoct. And know that the truth might not be far off.”
― Larry Watson, Montana 1948
“A couple of months ago I asked my parents to give me some history of the town, some of the history that as a child you never learn about. I wasn’t interested in scandal for the sake of learning about a scandal. I was more interested in learning more about the community and what unspoken events shaped it and hung around its neck during my childhood. What haunted the people I knew when I was too young and careless to see it in their faces? For better or for worse, my parents have been unable to supply me with much information. Either my childish impressions of tranquility were true (and I suspect in a good number of cases it was — though certainly not all) or people were very good at keeping to themselves. All of this was much on my mind while I read the small-town tale Montana 1948."
The Mookse and the Gripes Pantheon
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson (1993) Milkweed Editions (2007) 186 pp
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