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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"A small, perfect novel." (Washington Post Book World)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 3.6 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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wonderful

the part of the story which was from the dogs perspective tore at my heart. an amazing skillful writer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Awful

I am an avid reader who simply cannot see the attraction in this book. It is terribly dull. The reading is awful, like some old guy about to deliver a recolection and then it wanders all over the place. Worse, the audio book starts with a rather sappy 1 and a half hour interview with the author.

Normally when I don't care for a book I can at least understand how some people might like it. Not this. Best summary? Terribly dull.

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Sublime

I was initially resistant to William Maxwell reading his own book. It seemed narcissistic to me. Then 40 minutes in, I was so hooked. This is a gorgeous telling of an intimate story. I love this book and his narrating broke my heart wide open. Get.

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A Most Vehement Flame


"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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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rough narration, great story

enjoyed the story of small-town violence and the after effects, but maxwell's voice isn't great

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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thanks for bad reviews

in addition to clicking dentures, the story was rambling and uninteresting. don't waste any of your time

1 of 7 people found this review helpful

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