Julius Winsome

Julius Winsome

4.0 2
by Gerard Donovan

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
The title character of this unsettling novel lives alone in the deep woods of Maine, home to men “who cannot live anywhere else.” Fifty-one and never married, Julius remains in the remote cabin where he grew up, with only the company of his dog, Hobbes, and thousands of books left him by his father. When Hobbes is shot at close range by a deer hunter, inchoate rage drives Julius out of his isolation to track down the killer. In past novels, Donovan has resorted to literary effects to make points about man’s capacity for violence; here he settles for the clean punch of language, which he delivers with devastating force. In prose laced with hard-edged Shakespeareanisms—“amort,” “blood-boltered,” “cullion”—he pursues the nature of human cruelty, the reason that “some men must create pain in others to feel less of it themselves.”
Publishers Weekly
Donovan's poetic, well-crafted third novel, like his debut, Schopenhauer's Telescope, shows how violence can infect and take over a person's life. Julius Winsome has retreated with his old dog, Hobbes, to a remote family cabin in the northern Maine woods. "Many men live in these woods who cannot live anywhere else," he tells us. "They live alone and are tuned close to any offense you might give them." Winsome has some physical skills (he's an excellent shot with his grandfather's WWI Enfield rifle), but mostly he spends the long winters reading from his father's library of 3,282 classic books neatly arranged around the cabin walls. Only once did a chance for love and companionship brush him; it will return to haunt him as his frightening and touching story unfolds. Winsome's descent into anger, sadness, perhaps madness, begins when a deer hunter deliberately kills Hobbes. From that moment, Winsome's need for revenge grows rapidly and irrationally. Readers will sympathize with him every step of the way. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Donovan's acclaimed first novel, Schopenhauer's Telescope, explored thorny ethical issues related to wartime atrocities in Europe and humankind's capacity for cruelty. In his third novel, he returns to the subject of human frailty and malevolence, this time in small-town America. A dog has been shot at point-blank range in the woods of northern Maine. The dog's owner, a lifelong Maine resident and loner named Julius Winsome, recently lost both his father and his girlfriend, and this third unbearable loss tips him into madness and a pathological quest for vengeance. Winsome is a complex and powerfully realized fictional creation-a thoughtful, kind man driven to psychological disorder and violence by the casual cruelty of his neighbors. Donovan depicts his wounded humanity and psychological distress with great compassion and subtlety and vividly draws both the supporting characters and the bleak, foreboding Maine landscape. This novel of great emotional impact is enthusiastically recommended.-Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Man loses man's best friend, decides the rest of humanity is to blame. Donovan's first novel, Schopenhauer's Telescope (2003), tried, with rather pallid results, to turn philosophical concepts into allegorical fiction. His second is similarly thoughtful, but an entirely different sort of text: slim where its predecessor was bloated, deeply personal rather than vague and abstract. Narrator Julius is a self-sufficient type living alone in a cabin in the woods of Maine. "I had never married, though I think I came near once," he tells us, "and so even the silences here were mine." In the cabin, he's surrounded by the thousands of books collected by his father, as well as ghostly memories of the dead man, a war veteran haunted by his murderous conscience. Julius needs little to get by; some part-time work in the warmer months is sufficient. Otherwise, he's content to drink tea, read Shakespeare, pet his beloved dog Hobbes and listen to the gunfire from hunters galumphing through the woods. But that all changes when he finds Hobbes dying from a shotgun blast. Studying the wound, the veterinarian tells Julius that whoever shot Hobbes came up close and probably patted him before firing the fatal shot. In the same eerily calm manner he would use to describe cutting wood, Julius then relates his walks into the forest with his grandfather's WWI-issue Enfield sniper rifle and starts killing hunters. Donovan's command of language is astonishingly precise, eerily reflecting Julius's disarmingly mild-mannered pathology as it ascribes no more importance to the cold-blooded shooting of a hunter than to going into town for groceries. Finely tooled outsider fiction, as chilling as it is ultimately humane.

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Product Details

The Overlook Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.79(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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