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Montana 1948: A Novel

Montana 1948: A Novel

Автором Larry Watson

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Montana 1948: A Novel

Автором Larry Watson

оценки:
4.5/5 (46 оценки)
Длина:
189 pages
3 hours
Издано:
Aug 1, 2010
ISBN:
9781571318039
Формат:
Книге

Описание

The tragic tale of a Montana family ripped apart by scandal and murder: “a significant and elegant addition to the fiction of the American West” (Washington Post).
 
In the summer of 1948, twelve-year-old David Hayden witnessed and experienced a series of cataclysmic events that would forever change the way he saw his family. The Haydens had been pillars of their small Montana town: David’s father was the town sheriff; his uncle Frank was a war hero and respected doctor. But the family’s solid foundation was suddenly shattered by a bombshell revelation.
 
The Hayden’s Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, tells them that Frank has been sexually assaulting his female Indian patients for years—and that she herself was his latest victim. As the tragic fallout unravels around David, he learns that truth is not what one believes it to be, that power is abused, and that sometimes one has to choose between loyalty and justice.
 
Winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize
Издано:
Aug 1, 2010
ISBN:
9781571318039
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Raised in Bismarck, North Dakota, Larry Watson is the author of ten critically acclaimed books, including the bestselling Montana 1948. His fiction has been published internationally and has received numerous prizes and awards. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and other periodicals. He and his wife live in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A film adaptation of Watson’s novel Let Him Go is currently in production with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane and due to release in 2020.

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Montana 1948 - Larry Watson

Susan

Prologue

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. . . .

A young Sioux woman lies on a bed in our house. She is feverish, delirious, and coughing so hard I am afraid she will die.

My father kneels on the kitchen floor, begging my mother to help him. It’s a summer night and the room is brightly lit. Insects cluster around the light fixtures, and the pleading quality in my father’s voice reminds me of those insects—high-pitched, insistent, frantic. It is a sound I have never heard coming from him.

My mother stands in our kitchen on a hot, windy day. The windows are open, and Mother’s lace curtains blow into the room. Mother holds my father’s Ithaca twelve-gauge shotgun, and since she is a small, slender woman, she has trouble finding the balance point of its heavy length. Nevertheless, she has watched my father and other men often enough to know where the shells go, and she loads them until the gun will hold no more. Loading the gun is the difficult part. Once the shells are in, any fool can figure out how to fire it. Which she intends to do.

There are others—the sound of breaking glass, the odor of rotting vegetables.... I offer these images in the order in which they occurred, yet the events that produced these sights and sounds are so rapid and tumbled together that any chronological sequence seems wrong. Imagine instead a movie screen divided into boxes and panels, each with its own scene, so that one moment can occur simultaneously with another, so no action has to fly off in time, so nothing happens before or after, only during. That’s the way these images coexist in my memory, like the Sioux picture calendars in which the whole year’s events are painted on the same buffalo hide, or like a tapestry with every scene woven into the same cloth, every moment on the same flat plane, the summer of 1948....

Forty years ago. Two months ago my mother died. She made, as the expression goes, a good death. She came inside the house from working in her garden, and a heart attack, as sudden as a sneeze, felled her in the kitchen. My father’s death, ten years earlier, was less merciful. Cancer hollowed him out over the years until he could not stand up to a stiff wind. And Marie Little Soldier? Her fate contains too much of the story for me to give away.

A story that is now only mine to tell. I may not be the only witness left—there might still be someone in that small Montana town who remembers those events as well as I, but no one knew all three of these people better.

And no one loved them more.

One

IN 1948 my father was serving his second term as sheriff of Mercer County, Montana. We lived in Bentrock, the county seat and the only town of any size in the region. In 1948 its population was less than two thousand people.

Mercer County is in the far northeast corner of Montana, and Bentrock is barely inside the state’s borders. Canada is only twelve miles away (though the nearest border crossing is thirty miles to the west), and North Dakota ten miles. Then, as now, Mercer County was both farm and ranch country, but with only a few exceptions, neither farms nor ranches were large or prosperous. On the western edge of the county and extending into two other counties was the Fort Warren Indian Reservation, the rockiest, sandiest, least arable parcel of land in the region. In 1948 its roads were unpaved, and many of its shacks looked as though they would barely hold back a breeze. But all of northeastern Montana is hard country—the land is dry and sparse and the wind never stops blowing. The heat and thunderstorms in summer can be brutal, and the winters are legendary for the fierceness of their blizzards and the depths to which temperatures drop. (In one year we reached 106 degrees in July and 40 below in January.) For those of you who automatically think of Montana and snow-capped mountains in the same synapse, let me disabuse you. Mercer County is plains, flat as a tabletop on its western edge and riven with gullies, ravines, and low rocky hills to the east because of the work the Knife River has done over the centuries. The only trees that grow in that part of the country, aside from a few cottonwoods along the riverbank, have been planted by farmers and town dwellers. And they haven’t planted many. If the land had its way, nothing would grow taller than sagebrush and buffalo grass.

The harshness of the land and the flattening effect of wind and endless sky probably accounted for the relative tranquility of Mercer County. Life was simply too hard, and so much of your attention and energy went into keeping not only yourself but also your family, your crops, and your cattle alive, that nothing was left over for raising hell or making trouble.

And 1948 still felt like a new, blessedly peaceful era. The exuberance of the war’s end had faded but the relief had not. The mundane, workaday world was a gift that had not outworn its shine. Many of the men in Mercer County had spent the preceding years in combat. (But not my father; he was 4-F. When he was sixteen a horse kicked him, breaking his leg so severely that he walked with a permanent limp, and eventually a cane, his right leg V-ed in, his right knee perpetually pointing to the left.) When these men came back from war they wanted nothing more than to work their farms and ranches and to live quietly with their families. The county even had fewer hunters after the war than before.

All of which made my father’s job a relatively easy one.

Oh, he arrested the usual weekly drunks, mediated an occasional dispute about fence lines or stray cattle, calmed a few domestic disturbances, and warned the town’s teenagers about getting rowdy in Wood’s Cafe, but by and large being sheriff of Mercer County did not require great strength or courage. The ability to drive the county’s rural roads, often drifted over in the winter or washed out in the summer, was a much more necessary skill than being good with your fists or a gun. One of my father’s regular duties was chaperoning Saturday night dances in the county, but the fact that he often took along my mother (and sometimes me) shows how quiet those affairs—and his job—usually were.

And that disappointed me at the time. As long as my father was going to be a sheriff, a position with so much potential for excitement, danger, and bravery, why couldn’t some of that promise be fulfilled? No matter how many wheat fields or cow pastures surrounded us, we were still Montanans, yet my father didn’t even look like a western sheriff. He wore a shirt and tie, as many of the men in town did, but at least they wore boots and Stetsons; my father wore brogans and a fedora. He had a gun but he never carried it, on duty or off. I knew because I checked, time and time again. When he left the house I ran to his dresser and the top drawer on the right side. And there it was, there it always was. Just as well. As far as I was concerned it was the wrong kind of gun for a sheriff. He should have had a nickel-plated Western Colt .45, something with some history and heft. Instead, my father had a small .32 automatic, Italian-made and no bigger than your palm. My father didn’t buy such a sorry gun; he confiscated it from a drunken transient in one of his first arrests. My father kept the gun but in fair exchange bought the man a bus ticket to Billings, where he had family.

The gun was scratched and nicked and had a faint blush of rust along the barrel. The original grips were gone and had been replaced by two cut-to-fit rectangles of Masonite. Every time I came across the gun it was unloaded, its clip full of the short, fat .32 cartridges lying nearby in the same drawer. The pistol slopped about in a thick, stiff leather strap-and-snap holster meant for a larger gun and a revolver at that. Since it looked more like a toy than the western-style cap guns that had been my toys, I wasn’t even tempted to take my father’s gun out for play, though I had the feeling I could have kept it for weeks and my father wouldn’t have missed it.

You’re wondering if perhaps my father kept his official side arm in his county jail office. If he did, I never saw it there, and I wandered in and out of that jail office as often as I did the rooms of our home. I saw the rack of rifles and shotguns in their locked case (and two sets of handcuffs looped and dangling from the barrel of a Winchester 94) but no pistols.

We lived, you see, in a white two-story frame house right across the street from the courthouse, and the jail and my father’s office were in the basement of the courthouse. On occasion I waited for my father to release a prisoner (usually a hung-over drunk jailed so he wouldn’t hurt himself) or finish tacking up a wanted poster before I showed him my report card or asked him for a dime for a movie. No, if there had been a six-shooter or a Stetson or a pair of hand-tooled cowboy boots around for my father to put on with his badge, I would have known about it. (I must correct that previous statement: my father never wore his badge; he carried it in his suit-coat or shirt pocket. I always believed that this was part of his self-effacing way, and that may be so. But now that the badge is mine—my mother sent it to me after my father’s death and I have it pinned to my bulletin board—I realize there was another reason, connected not to character but to practicality. The badge, not star-shaped but a shield, is heavy and its pin as thick as a pencil’s lead. My father would have been poking fair-sized holes in his suits and shirts, and the badge’s weight could have torn fabric.)

If my father didn’t fit my ideal of what he should be in his occupation, he certainly didn’t fit my mother’s either. She wanted him to be an attorney. Which he was; he graduated from the University of North Dakota Law School, and he was a member of both the North Dakota and Montana State Bar Associations. My mother fervently believed that my father—indeed, all of us—would be happier if he practiced law and if we did not live in Montana, and her reasons had little to do with the potentially hazardous nature of a sheriff’s work compared to an attorney’s or the pay scale along which those professions positioned themselves. She wanted my father to find another job and for us to move because only doing those things would, she felt, allow my father to be fully himself. Her contention is one I must explain.

My father was born in 1910 in Mercer County and grew up on a large cattle ranch outside Bentrock. In the early twenties my father, with his parents and his brother, moved to Bentrock, where my grandfather began his first of many terms as county sheriff. My grandfather kept the ranch and had it worked by hands while he was in office, and since Mercer County had a statute that a sheriff could serve only three consecutive terms, he was able to return to the ranch every six years. When Grandfather’s terms expired, his deputy, Len McAuley, would serve a term; after Len’s term, Grandfather would run again, and this way they kept the office in the proper hands. During his terms as sheriff, Grandfather brought his family into town to live in a small apartment above a bar (he owned the bar and building the apartment was in). My father often spoke of how difficult it was for him to move from the ranch and its open expanses to the tiny apartment that always smelled of stale beer and cigar smoke. He spent every weekend and every summer at the ranch and when he had to return to the apartment where he and his brother slept on a fold-out couch, he felt like crying.

(And now that it is too late to ask anyone, I wonder: Why did my grandfather first run for sheriff? This one I can probably answer, from my memory and knowledge of him. He wanted, he needed, power. He was a dominating man

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Что люди думают о Montana 1948

4.4
46 оценки / 41 Обзоры
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  • (4/5)
    Well written and thought provoking.
  • (4/5)
    From David Hayden's life :"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 “So begins David's story of what happened in Montana in summer, 1948.Expect the story to be "crisp and clear" and definitely hold your interest.4★
  • (5/5)
    Excellent. Powerful use of words. He can convey SO much in a little volume.The Hayden brothers, Frank (a doctor) and Wesley (an attorney and sheriff) live in the shadow of their larger-than-life father, Julian. Wes is sheriff - a position inherited from his dad. When Wes's family helper, Marie Tall Feather, gets ill he calls on his brother to make a house call. But Marie's panic brings out a truth that sets the Haydens (and the town) on a path they would rather not be on but MUST follow.The book reminds me of [To Kill a Mockingbird].Book club # 1 read in Feb 2005; Book club # 2 chose it for July 2005 and invited the author to join us. What a treat!
  • (5/5)
    What a great little book! "Little" because it's only 169 pages. But it packs an awful lot of drama and emotion into those 169 pages. And it strikes a chord right off the bat - here is a man, some 30+ years later, recalling a remarkable summer when he was 12 years old. Seems to be a point in a lifetime for many of us that is rich with memories and milestones as we began to break out of our childhood cocoons.The boy lives with Mom and Dad in a small dusty, wind-blown town in the northeastern part of the state. Dad's the town sheriff, there's one deputy, Len, who lives next door. There are also lots of Native Americans, one of whom lives in with the family, a young woman who is companion to the boy (he later learns much to his shock and chagrin that she is in truth, The Babysitter, as Mom works at the Courthouse across the street). Grand-dad lives out of town with lots of money and lots of influence. Dad's brother is Dr. Frank, a WWll hero, and the favored son.Then something happens. And all kind of issues are raised, dealing with duty, doing the right thing, and family loyalty. It seems like there is an awful lot packed into such few pages. The ending is well done and fitting.A personal note - if there is a subplot here, it deals with guns, and the extent to which guns were a part of every day life in Montana in 1948. Wherever you may stand on the issue of guns and gun controls, you might find this theme to be of some interest, particularly if you are a city bred, east of the Mississippi cowboy like me.This is an excellent story and I will read more Larry Watson. "Laura", his second book, will be next for me. I tumbled onto him after reading a review the other day for his latest book, "As Good as Gone", his 9th. I will be reading it soon also.
  • (4/5)
    Lately it seems books are getting longer and longer. Most writers are snared into writing series rather than stand-alone books, so I think it takes even more skill than usual to hone a short, tight book without a lot of extraneous detail or background. Watson delivers. By today’s standards this book is a novella, but it’s pretty intense and while it doesn’t require close reading (the plot’s not that complex) it will keep you engaged and delighted with the writing. It isn’t a new story. Things not being what they seem in a small town has been done before. So has testing family loyalty, cover-ups and murder. This story stands out because of its lack of baggage. Watson gets right to it and keeps the pressure on until there’s a resolution. It isn’t a satisfying one for anyone involved, but it works. It isn’t a surprise once Frank starts throwing the canning jars around though.
  • (5/5)
    A poweful rendering of both social issues and family dynamics and the small ways in which big events echo down the generations. The life young David Hayden knows in the sleepy little post-war town where his father is County Sherrif, is turned upside down when his war-hero uncle is accused of the sexual abuse by an Indian girl. A brief but poignant story told in terse harshly-lit language - almost like a parable. Loved it
  • (4/5)
    A short novel dealing with family secrets. A young boys uncle, the town doctor, is molesting Native American Indians girls. His brother, the local policeman, discover what is happening and finds out that many people know but have covered it up. The doctor is accused, but he murders the woman. Themes: prejudice, power, secrets.
  • (4/5)
    I found this book in the discounted section of my local Goodwill and I could not be happier with my find. I had never heard of Watson before, but the cover grabbed my attention. The author could have easily come off as saccharine or disingenuous, but he manages to tell a story from the perspective of a twelve year-old boy as an adult narrator. The characters are sometimes painfully real for anyone familiar with living in a small town or family for whom appearances matter. The writing is succinct and doesn't present the reader with any frills or purple moments. Watson is in complete control of his craft throughout this short novel and it's extremely difficult to convey to people exactly what makes this book so special. I told a friend I believe this is one of the greatest coming-of-age stories I've ever read and I stand by that because this book touches on race relations, growing up, finding oneself within a strong family, and the thoughts behind love. Not Romantic love or a mere notion, but what it means to truly love the people we sometimes find wandering in and out of our lives.
  • (4/5)
    I really liked this book. It was good historical fiction, it had a moral, and it took place in Montana--what's not to like?
  • (4/5)
    Very readable and compelling 'detective story'. A young boy's experience of law and order as demonstrated by his father, the sherrif, in what is apparently something of an allegory about the relationship between european settlers and native americans.
  • (5/5)
    A very different coming-of-age story, told from the point of view of a 12 year old boy, David, in a small town in Montana, summer of the year 1948. The prologue is immediately gripping: a series of dramatic images from that summer, that beg for expansion, explanation.David Hayden’s father, Wesley, is the sheriff in Bentrock, Montana, a position he was more or less forced to inherit from his domineering, controlling father. David’s mother, Gail, who is not from Montana, is a formal woman, even with her son, gentle but firm and somewhat distant. But her sense of right and wrong is absolute.The Hayden housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, a Hunkpapa Sioux, becomes ill and David’s mother wants to send for the family doctor, who is Wesley’s brother, Frank. Marie becomes hysterical and begs not to have Frank attend her. Frank, who was a WWII hero, did have a reputation when younger of ‘running wild” on the Sioux reservation, a euphemism for, basically, raping Indian women. This is not really condemned in Bentrock; the mores of the times held that the Indians were inferior, as superstitious lot, and such conduct among white men, was tolerated although not exactly encouraged.To her shock, Gail finds out that frank has been abusing his power as a doctor by molesting young girls on the Indian reservation. She tells Wesley—and the story erupts from there.This is a story about choice—moral choice vs family loyalty and tradition. These, in my opinion, are always the most powerful stories, when moral choice is neither the easiest nor the most obvious side to take. Watson does a brilliant job of showing how everything—tradition, family social mores—piles up against the moral choice. The resolution is dramatic and necessary.Watson’s writing is truly excellent. It’s calm, not dramatic at all. He writes extremely well from the point of view of a 12 year old boy, and he captures the attitudes of a 12 year old utterly believably. Those attitudes and attendant emotions are NOT those of an adult, and Watson’s language and skillful story-telling bring that across powerfully. The writing is detached, as is proper for the character of David, and is perfect for emphasizing the horror of what happens.The characters of David’s mother and father, Gail and Wesley are quietly drawn and real. David’s grandfather is a powerful figure, frightening in his assumptions of omniscience and omnipotence. Frank is not so well drawn, simply because he himself doesn’t appear much in the story itself, yet his character is central to the story, and that character is defined well enough to fuel the tension within the family. The contrast among all the characters is well done, their voices distinct.This is a superb book. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Beautiful story of love and loss set against a bleak Montana setting.
  • (5/5)
    How is it that I have never heard of this author or book until 23 years after it was written? This a hidden gem and should be on every modern literary classic list. Watson writes unpretentious, honest, and evocative prose, and weaves a good page turning narrative with morally complex ideas, a feat few writers can do with aplomb. This novella punches way above it's weight, and accomplishes much more than many books three times its size.

  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed reading this short book set in Montana. As many of you know, I spent the summers of my youth in central Idaho living with a ranching family, friends to my family. I was there from about 1950 to 1958, I guess, so the time was similar to that described by Larry Watson. I remember the weight certain families had in the small community; families who's name was known by all, and talked about, no doubt. Of course, I was a child and only there for a few weeks so I did not get in on the gossip.Watson's book is abut such a family, and in such a small community. He explores the very human frailties we all know of and how they play out when there are scandals and tragedies in a small community and how family can be torn apart, and how the innocent can be hurt, and the guilty seemingly get off "Scott free" and yet, not really. His prose is conversational, and clean, although there were times when his descriptions sat down in the middle of the story and would not allow you to follow the action quickly. He seems to have said "the action is not the important stuff, it is the feel of the place that you want". I liked it. I recommend it particularly to those of us who love to read of the west, and how the land and the folks were when times were more simple, and life was more elemental.
  • (4/5)
    This brief story of the Hayden family, told retrospectively from the POV of then-12-year-old David, is deceptively simple. The characters are not richly wrought but I have clear images of them in my mind. I can hear their voices and visualize the way they carry their bodies. In [Montana 1948], David's sheriff father discovers that his only brother has been molesting Indian women via his power as a physician. As the family grapples with this knowledge and the subsequent decisions they must make, David's coming of age and his discovery of the complexities of history is both figure and ground. The novel turns the myth of the great Wild West on its end, exposing the uncomfortable truths that continue to be effectively buried by white sentimentality and arrogance. It does so without rancor or apology. I appreciate Watson's simple story-telling voice but I also wish he had not felt compelled to tie the story up so neatly in an epilogue. He could have let the story end as it did.
  • (5/5)
    Montana 1948 by Larry Watson chronicles the events in a small Montana town, and in particular, the effects these events had on one family. As told through the eyes of the only child in the family, David, we learn of his quiet, inward looking father, sheriff of the town and his morally upright but loving mother. They are all part of the Hayden family who were a power source in the county. People looked up to and respected the Haydens, his rancher grandfather who had spent previous years himself as the sheriff, his war hero uncle, the local doctor and his father. Another important character was Marie Little Soldier, the Sioux housekeeper, and the catalyst of the events that were to change this family forever. This is a story that I felt viscerally, the author writes simply and from the heart. As the plot develops I felt David’s loss of innocence as his small town life of fishing, riding and hunting changes when racism, betrayal and violence come into it. His own identity and strong family ties are shattered. He is telling the story as an adult, looking back upon that summer, but the reader intimately feels the child’s confusion and anguish.Larry Watson’s writing reminds me in many ways of both Ivan Doig and Kent Haruf. These men write with a western viewpoint. Their writing is rich, meditative and stripped of any extra unneeded words, cutting right into the soul of the story. Montana 1948 tells a powerful, candid and emotionally charged story in under 200 pages. I admire both the writing and the story.
  • (5/5)
    This beautifully written novel tells the story of a year in the life of a Montana sheriff's family that would forever change their life and their relationships with their own family. The story is told through the eyes of the sheriff's son as he remembers events later in life. The topic dealt with in this novel is not an easy one, but Watson successfully relates the story to his readers and keeps them interested in it. The reader could almost feel the situation in which the sheriff found himself -- between a rock and a hard place. The novel is not overly long, but the author's care in choosing the right words makes the story the right length. Highly recommended; one of the best reads of the year for me.
  • (4/5)
    A spare novella, narrated by the twelve-year-old son of the sheriff of a fictional Mercer County in northeastern Montana. The sheriff's brother is a prominent doctor in the town, who it turns out molests Indian girls in the course of 'treating' them.. Despite the effort of the father (himself sheriff before his son became such) of the doctor and the sheriff to prevent justice being dealt to the doctor, the sheriff decides that he must arrest his brother. The story is told in pristine prose and holds one's rapt attention right up to its poignant denouement.
  • (4/5)
    As perfect as a small, self contained recounting of a horrible injustice and its impact on a small town could be. At 169 pages, there are no extra words but an overwhelming knowledge of the feelings of most of the families involved. "Most" is a flaw.Young David's family is the law in Bentrock, Montana. His father and grandfather have been the sheriffs for generations. His uncle is the town doctor. There are Sioux residents in town whose lives intersect rarely with the whites. Marie Little Soldier is David's companion and the housekeeper. When Marie falls ill, she refuses to allow David's uncle Frank to examine her. When she confesses her fears to David's mother Gail, everyone is impacted and ruined and lives end.The narrative is David's, but we also hear the internal thoughts of his mother and father. Notably missing is Marie Little Soldier's brave voice.But this is still a very strong and simple work of brilliance.
  • (5/5)
    This is a story of sibling rivalry, the malleability of the criminal justice system when it's applied to people of color, the internal struggles that we all experience when it feels like the only way to do the right thing is by doing the wrong thing. The spare prose and the slender size of the book make the complex depth of the characters all the more astonishing.David Hayden is 12 years old in 1948, when his family's housekeeper, a Native American woman named Marie Little Feather, becomes ill and is later found dead in her room at the Hayden house. The truth about what happened to her, and the repercussions of both the original acts and the subsequent reactions, tear apart the Hayden family in painful and irrevocable ways. Watson has a way with evocative description that made me feel as if I had once visited the small Montana town where the Haydens lived, in the High Plains eastern part of the state. And his rendering of Adult David's thoughts about the events of that long-ago summer made me feel as if I was right there in his head, looking back on my own memories:... the sound of breaking glass, the odor of rotting vegetables. ... I offer these images in the order in which they occurred, yet the events that produced these sights and sounds are so rapid and tumbled together that any chronological sequence seems wrong. Imagine instead a movie screen divided into boxes and panels, each with its own scene, so that one moment can occur simultaneously with another, so that no action has to fly off in time, so nothing happens before or after, only during. That's the way these images coexist in my memory, like the Sioux picture calendars in which the whole year's event are painted on the same buffalo hide, or like a tapestry with every scene woven into the same cloth, every moment on the same flat plane, the summer of 1948 ...;Watson effectively uses the first-person perspective of an adult David looking back on this time in his life. While grown-up David occasionally adds some big-picture perspective and hindsight, he's also careful to emphasize his younger self's bafflement at some of the secrets and discussion that he overhears. He calls himself naïve for a boy of 12, and I think he would be in today's culture, but I suspect many 1948-era 12-year-olds would seem rather immature to today's tweens.I suggested this book to my real-life book club as part of our criminal justice theme. (I first read it in 2015 but didn't review it then and didn't remember enough to feel comfortable leading a discussion without re-reading.) The other books we've read for this theme include [The Green Mile], [Minority Report], [A Study in Emerald], and [Just Mercy]. The Stevenson book is without doubt the most important, but this one just might be my favorite.
  • (4/5)
    In Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, our narrator looks back 40 years on life-changing events that occurred when he was 12 and growing up in northeast Montana in the summer of 1948. A young Indian woman from the reservation is the family's housekeeper and David's babysitter. She contracts pneumonia and is wildly afraid to see the local white doctor, Frank Hayden. Frank is the brother of David's father Wesley. Wesley is the town sheriff, and the young woman's concerns force him to investigate his doctor brother. What transpires changes 12 year old David's views of himself and his family and adults in general, as he learns that some he has idolized have clay feet, and others are not what he thought. The questions raised may cause permanent fissures in the tight family and community he has innocently enjoyed his whole brief life.This short book is written in simple, eloquent prose, and packs quite a punch. It belongs up on the shelf with your Norman MacLean and Kent Haruf books. Thanks to Mark for pushing me to read it.
  • (5/5)
    Engrossing, told in retrospective, with some asides as perspective/explanation from his older self. Davy takes us thru one week when his family changed profoundly. His father is a sheriff and discovers that his much admired older brother has been abusing Native women. Does he follow his moral values or protect his brother? Davy eavesdrops and imagines protecting his family.
  • (2/5)
    This was featured at my local MI library, so I checked it out.
    Complex interplay and done well enough to inspire me to read more by this author.
    Read in 2006.
  • (4/5)
    Great little book. Highly recommend. Read it.
  • (4/5)
    The story of the tragic events which begin a young man's coming of age in post-WWII Montana. Well done and with a remarkable eye for telling detail. Curiously unaffecting, though, and that may be because the ending was predictable without feeling inevitable. Recommended for the execution and the detail. This is also a perfect one-sitting read, and lends itself very well to that kind of reading.
  • (5/5)
    Whoa.

    I couldn't put this down, I read most of it in a single sitting.
  • (4/5)
    This is not quite a reveal story, as the gruesome darkness isn't so much in the crimes as in the denial of the crimes and the devastation of a family ground by implacable forces that are inadmissible in public. While the reverse is the case this story had strong echos in my mind with a favorite story written 10 years later concerning a father and a very different pair of brothers, Riding Shotgun, and I think I would have felt more impact from it if I had in fact read it in the 90s.
  • (4/5)
    Tiny quick read that resonates. Reads like YA but the subject matter is over most of their heads. Thought provoking, reads in an hour or 2!
  • (4/5)
    A moral struggle witnessed by a 12-year-old boy, recounted by the mature reflective man he became. The story is clean and simple, although the events it relates are neither. It has many of the same elements found in To Kill a Mockingbird...a child's summer marred by adult concerns, racial tensions and sexual crimes. But David Hayden's recollection of the summer of 1948 conveys none of the nostalgia or childhood innocence of Jean Louise Finch's reminiscence. Although David's parents and other adults constantly try to protect him from knowledge of the events unfolding in his own home and community, he sees, hears and understands far more than they realize. This was a fast read, with a compelling story line, but minimal character development. We learn only what we need to know, and only at the point in the story where we need to know it, about any given person. By the end I felt I understood David and his parents well enough, but I didn't like any of them very much, and I didn't long to know more about their lives. In fact I could have done without the epilogue, which blunted what I felt to be the true end of the story. I give it 3 1/2 stars.
  • (5/5)
    This was a heart rending, touching, infuriating read about a family. Most members of the family were good and just and kind. But there is always someone, isn't there? The story is told from the POV of David Hayden. It is the story of his twelve year old self, in Montana, in 1948. It is the story of his family. It is the also about Marie Little Soldier, a young woman of the Souix tribe who was their housekeeper at the time. This was not an easy time to belong to an Indian tribe. In fact, I doubt it has been for at least a couple of centuries. Perhaps justice is something that was not expected then, or even now?David's father was a lawyer, who did not practice, instead he was the laid back sherrif of their small town. It was a job that had been in the family for years. His mother worked at the courthouse, and Marie looked after David. Thier safe and quiet world was shaken one day, shaken to the core. It was the sherriff's brother who was caused the upheaval. It was time that the townsfolk had to learn to stop looking the other way. Who would be the one to make them see?