, October 26, 2013
(view all comments by kas)
This book makes a surprisingly quick read. The edition I received yesterday as part of the GoodReads First Reads program is 269 not-too-densely-packed pages. The spare prose of Larry Watson enabled my quick consumption of the story, and I think almost any reader would find his style well-suited to moving through as a pageturner over one or two sittings, if desired.
The rapidity with which I moved through it surprises me only because of the sophistication of the novel's structure, the perfectly apt word choice to construct this intricate work, and the suitability of each detail of plot, setting, and character to the novel as it had been framed from the first page. This is literature that not only would bear but indeed would reward careful scrutiny. I could have mined every detail, every elegantly simple phrase in the entire text and gained more insight into the novel with every ounce of effort. I will test this opinion pretty soon as I reread the entire book.
So if you're looking for a good story that is as well-written as it is easy to read, or if you've got your eye out for the newest big thing in contemporary literature, Let Him Go is quite unlikely to disappoint.
The atmosphere and setting of this novel have their own powerful magnetism. The protagonist, George, ruminates within the first few pages: "The alarm clock ticks on the bedside table. If he stays, he'll need reminders of hours and obligations, while she'll be traveling to where time obeys human need and not the other way around." Certainly the destiny, big and small, of the characters seems tied to place. But I'm not sure whether I'd agree that time and place dictate to human need. Rather, they are interwoven inextricably -- at least as far as I could tell in my ultra-quick reading.
I'll finish by pointing out that I usually find spare writing styles -- especially in American stories, particularly those American stories set out West -- somehow phony or at least distancing for me as a reader. Watson's style is inviting and organic -- at least it feels that way to me