Montana, 1948
  • Montana, 1948
  • Montana, 1948

Montana, 1948

4.3 131
by Larry Watson
     
 

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“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 Hayden’s story of what happened in Montana in 1948. The events of that cataclysmic summer permanently alter twelve-year-old David’s

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Overview

“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 Hayden’s story of what happened in Montana in 1948. The events of that cataclysmic summer permanently alter twelve-year-old David’s understanding of his family: his father, a small-town sheriff; his remarkably strong mother; David’s uncle Frank, a war hero and respected doctor; and the Haydens’ Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations turn the family’s life upside down as she relates how Frank has been molesting his female Indian patients. As their story 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 family loyalty and justice.

Editorial Reviews

Nation
My favorite novel of 1993.... Utterly mesmerizing.... There's something eminently universal in Watson's ponderings on the human condition, and it's refracted through a nearly perfect eye for character, place and the rhythms of language. Fiction at its finest is sometimes hard to find; Montana 1948 amply fits the bill.
—Chris Faatz
San Francisco Chronicle
Montana 1948 stands out as a work of art...
—Susan Petro
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Larry Watson is one of those good writers few people know about, a writer whose work is worthy of prizes.... The style of Montana 1948 is as thin, clear and crisp as a North Dakota Wind.
—Annick Smith
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A stark tragedy unfolds in Watson's taut, memorable novel, the winner of the publisher's National Fiction Prize. During the summer of 1948, a solid, middle-class family in a small Montana town is wrenched apart by scandal, murder and suicide. Narrator David Hayden tells the story as an adult looking back at the traumatic events that scarred yet matured him when he was 12. His pious Lutheran mother informs his father, Wesley, the county sheriff, that David's uncle Frank, a doctor, has been molesting and raping Native American girls during routine medical exams. Uncle Frank's latest victim is Marie Little Soldier, the Haydens' Sioux housekeeper. When Marie dies, presumably of pneumonia, David provides key evidence that implicates his uncle in her murder. Frank is arrested by his brother, who locks the confessed sexual abuser in the basement to save him from the embarrassment of jail. David confronts his uncle's racism and the evasions and denials his family has constructed to cover up the affair. In crisp, restrained prose, Watson ( In a Dark Time ) indelibly portrays the moral dilemma of a family torn between justice and loyalty; by implication, he also illuminates some dark corners of our national history. (Sept.)
Library Journal
A young Sioux woman tossing with fever on a cot; a father begging his wife for help; a mother standing uncertainly in her kitchen with a 12-gauge shotgun: from these fragments of memory, evoked by the narrator as the novel opens, Watson builds a simple but powerful tale. It is Montana in 1948, and young David Hayden's father, Wesley, is sheriff of their small town--a position he inherited from his domineering father. Wesley is overshadowed by his older brother, Frank, a war hero who is now the town doctor. When Marie, the Sioux woman who works for the Haydens, fall ill, she adamantly resists being examined by Frank. Some probing reveals that Frank has been molesting the Indian women in his care. Wesley's dilemma--should he turn in his own brother?--is intensified when Marie is found dead and David confesses that he saw his uncle near the house before she died. The moral issues, and the consequences of following one's conscience, are made painfully evident here. Watson is to be congratulated for the honesty of his writing and the purity of his prose. Highly recommended.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
Howard Frank Mosher
This story is as fresh and clear as the trout streams fished by its narrator....As universal in its themes as it is original in its peculiarity, Montana 1948 is a significant and eloquent addition to the fiction of the American West and to contemporary American fiction in general. -- Washington Post Book World
Chris Faatz
My favorite novel of 1993....utterly mesmerizing...there's something eminently universal in Watson's ponderings on the human condition, and its a fact that there's a nearly perfect eye for character, place, and the ribbons of language. Fiction at its finest is sometimes hard to find: Montana 1948 amply fits the bill. -- The Nation

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781571310613
Publisher:
Milkweed Editions
Publication date:
05/28/2007
Pages:
186
Sales rank:
82,189
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

Louise Erdich
A beautiful novel about the meaning of place and evolution of courage....A wonderful book.

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