On an Illinois farm in the 1920s, a man is murdered, and in the same moment the tenous friendship between two lonely boys comes to an end. In telling their interconnected stories, American Book Award-winner William delivers a masterfully restrained and magically evocative meditation on the past.
©1980 William Maxwell (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"A small, perfect novel." (Washington Post Book World)
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
"jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire,
which hath a most vehement flame"
Solomon 8:6, King James Bible
This short novel about a 1921 murder-suicide in a small Illinois farming town mesmerized me. Written as the recollection of the narrator's friendship with another 14-year-old and his reconstruction of events from newspaper accounts fifty years on after he cannot shake a lingering memory of the last time he saw his friend, whose father killed his mother's lover and then himself.
The book is a timeless depiction of the human condition marred by matters of the heart, steeped in imagery of the moors of marital moral dilemmas as neighbors fall in love, she an abused and unhappy mom and he who married young and longs for love, as the author meticulously imagines how the marital betrayals metastasize into a cuckolded husband's mania, the isolation of their son (his friend), the estrangement of her married lover's children, and even the broken heart of the boy's/family's dog. What particularly haunts the narrator though is an event magnified in his mind in a later brief encounter with the friend, after which the friend disappeared from his life.
A raw, jarring novel I highly recommend.
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