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American Boy

Bewertungen:
3/5 (66 Bewertungen)
Länge:
230 Seiten
3 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Oct 4, 2011
ISBN:
9781571318466
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

We were exposed to these phenomena in order that we might learn something, but of course the lessons we learn are not always what was intended.

So begins Matthew Garth’s story of the fall of 1962, when the shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events in small-town Willow Falls, Minnesota. Matthew first sees Louisa Lindahl in Dr. Dunbar’s home office, and at the time her bullet wound makes nearly as strong an impression as her unclothed body. Fueled over the following weeks by his feverish desire for this mysterious woman and a deep longing for the comfort and affluence that appears to surround the Dunbars, Matthew finds himself drawn into a vortex of greed, manipulation, and ultimately betrayal.

Immersive, heart-breaking, and richly evocative of a time and place, this long-awaited new novel marks the return of a great American storyteller.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Oct 4, 2011
ISBN:
9781571318466
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

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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3.0
66 Bewertungen / 11 Rezensionen
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  • (4/5)
    It’s 1962 in rural Minnesota, near the South Dakota border, and seventeen year old Matt Garth is practically a second son in the family of his best friend, Johnny Dunbar. Johnny’s father is the local doctor and when a young woman is shot by her boyfriend on Thanksgiving Day, she is treated by the doctor and recovers in the Dunbar’s home. Unfortunately, the young woman, Louisa, has more than recovery in mind.The story is told in the first person perspective of Matt as he looks back on this wind and snow swept winter of his youth. And, probably due to this limited perspective, the women in the story never seem to develop into fully realized characters. Mrs Dunbar’s passivity was a puzzle to me. Why Louisa herself was never taken to the hospital was also a question in the back of my mind. Perhaps it was just the way life was in this father, or in this case, doctor, knows best era. But these are really minor quibbles and the writing rises above them.Watson, author of the stunning Montana, 1948, is a lyrical storyteller and American Boy is a poignant coming of age tale well worth a read.
  • (3/5)
    Idyllic life in small-town middle-America in the 1960's--is this one of the most overdone genres in contemporary fiction? To me it feels as if authors are all too likely to want to relive--or misremember--the days of their youth. Believe me, they were never like this!Matthew Garth doesn't have much family life. His father is gone and his mother works long hours to keep a roof over their heads. Thus Matthew is pretty much adopted by the family of his best friend, Johnny Dunbar. The Dunbars are the pillars of the community. Johnny's dad is the town's doctor, they live in the biggest house, and are the most admired family. The author paints the time (early 1960s) and place (northern Minnesota, almost on the Canadian border) beautifully, with only an occasional misstep. The reader can feel the biting cold of the winter as the wind comes howling across the plains to chill the lives of all the residents of Willow Falls. On Thanksgiving Day, as the Dunbar family, including Matthew, sit down for their holiday meal. The phone rings, and slowly, inexorably, the life of each person in the room begins to change. Dr. Dunbar is called to join in the search for a young woman, purportedly shot by her boyfriend, and running injured through the blustery afternoon. Matt and Johnny are eager to be a party to the excitement, so they go to the shack where the girl, Louisa Lindahl, lived with her ne'er-do-well boyfriend. By the time the boys have returned to the Dunbar home, she has already been found, and is under the doctor's care in his home office.The boys, Matthew, especially, are immediately smitten. Dr. Dunbar decides that since she has no place to go, Louisa should convalesce in the family home. Mrs. Dunbar, as usual, has nothing to say in the matter. So Louisa continues to insinuate herself into the lives of the Dunbars.There is more--all standard fare in this type of coming of age story--drag racing, drinking, sexual experimentation, finishing with a wild and wooly drive through a terrible blizzard. Watson's writing is fine--he certainly paints vivid descriptions of life in a small town which is built around one family. Probably no one could create a more visceral blizzard than he does. His characters, however, are lacking in humanity. They are so flat and unlikable, that it made reading about them a chore. Even Matt is overcome by his baser instincts, and in the end, not anyone you would want to meet.Other readers have been most enthusiastic about this title. I regret that I cannot be among them.
  • (3/5)
    American Boy by Larry Watson is a unique and captivating story. It portrays a prominent family in a small Minnesota town in the early 1960's. Narrated by a high school aged boy, it touches on the ideals, observations and passions of the boy. The power of American Boy is more from how the same forces that help shape the life of a young man also affect the adults he knows and cares about. The characters are sometimes sketchy - almost caricatures - and this might lead the reader to wish they more fully developed. But the overall effect was one of exposing an emptiness on top of the overt drama -pleasing and slightly troubling.
  • (5/5)
    Watson's writing reminds me a bit of [[Kent Haruf]] and [[David Rhodes]] - high praise from me. He takes us inside a small town and captures the rhythms of everyday life. [American Boy] differs, however, in its focus on a few characters. Matthew Garth is the son of a working class mother who lost his father as a child. His best friend is the son of the town's doctor, and his favorite moments are the ones spent in the Dunbar house. However, when a young woman, Louisa, is shot by her boyfriend and is brought to Dr. Dunbar's clinic to be treated, the balance of the household changes. As the Dunbars work to maintain their way of life, Matthew and Louisa always striving to be different, better. It is this tension that propels the story forward to its conclusion. I'll be looking for more by Watson!
  • (4/5)
    Some think that growing up in the 50s and 60s was a much simpler time than today, but Larry Watson captures a time in a young man's life that was not so simple. Matthew is the son of a single mother and spends most of his time over at his best friend Johnny's house. In fact, he would like to live there in this all-American family with the town doctor the head of the household and a stay-at-home mother. Both boys are learning the art of medicine from Dr. Dunbar and their lives change when a young woman is shot by her husband and brought in as another outsider to the family fold.Watson is a wonderful storyteller. I have enjoyed the five books I've read by him as they stir up feelings of nostalgia for the past and paint pictures of peaceful settings such as this one: "Out here everything was a shade of blue--the dark blue of the winter sky, the darker blue of tree trunks and fence posts, the pale blue of the snowfields. The moon had drifted south and risen higher, its light not much more helpful that a star's." The peace is always broken by the kind of sadness that haunts the reader because it seems so real. Just like a happy family can seem so real until something happens that breaks it apart.If you haven't read any of Watson's works, I urge you to do so. His Montana, 1948 will always have first place in my heart, but his other tales are all first-rate.
  • (5/5)
    Larry Watson's AMERICAN BOY is an all-American, universal kind of story that will resonate with anyone who grew up in the American heartland of the 50s and 60s. The typical small town of those decades is portrayed perfectly - those downtown blocks that held hardware and grocery stores with the local lawyer and doctor upstairs over the drugstore. Even the latest Plymouth-Dodge innovation, that infamous and short-lived push-button transmission, is featured, the same one that was immortalized in songwriter Greg Brown's "Brand New '64 Dodge."Matthew Garth is our unlikely hero, a fatherless 16-17 year-old in the 1962-63 school year, who has attached himself for the past several years to the Dunbars, a prominent family in Willow Falls, Minnesota, a small community of a couple thousand. Johnny Dunbar is his classmate and closest friend, but all that will change when an "older woman" enters the picture in the person of Louisa Lindahl. The head of the family, Dr. Dunbar, is a pillar of the local community, although there are early intimations of that pillar being made of salt, with feet of clay.Like many small towns, Willow Falls is a study in contrasts and opposites. The falls is not really a falls; Frenchman's Forest is not really a forest, but a dark and secret place where the two then-younger boys first learned about the mechanics of sex from an ill-informed older boy, and which later serves as backdrop to more intimate experimentation. Because one of the things that makes AMERICAN BOY such a universal tale is its minutely descriptive attention to all those familiar rites of passage - smoking, drinking, reckless driving, and of course backseat groping with all the heavy breathing, passionate kisses, frenzied frustrations and furtive fumbling with zippers, clasps, breasts and thighs. There is even a very "Mrs Robinson" scene between Matthew and the local lawyer's wife, but it has its own variations making it both original and derivative all at the same time.Matthew becomes obsessed with the not-so mysterious twenty-something Lydia, who, through a sequence of shocking events, takes up residence with the Dunbars, destroying and changing not just Matthew's friendship with Johnny, but the whole family dynamic.Yes, this is a masterfully rendered story of a friendship and family torn assunder and innocence lost. An old tale to be sure, but Watson makes it all seem new and fresh, employing characters all too human and flawed.As a coming-of-age story, countless comparisons could probably be made. I've already suggested THE GRADUATE, but the ones I first thought of were Evan Hunter's LAST SUMMER and Herman Raucher's SUMMER OF '42, both books from 30-40 years ago, and, more recently, Donald Lystra's northern Michigan story, SEASON OF WATER AND ICE.AMERICAN BOY is, in the end, an old tale made new and fresh through the story-telling skills of a master hand at fiction. Larry Watson burst onto the book scene nearly twenty years ago with his first novel, MONTANA 1948, a shocking and beautiful book. His latest offering shows he is still at the top of his game. If you appreciate serious literary fiction, READ THIS BOOK!
  • (4/5)
    A nicely written book; a not totally compelling plot or characters. Teen age boy from poor family taken in by rich doctor family; becomes smitten with young woman the doctor operates on and then keeps on in his house; big blizzard and rather unlikely denouement. The characters just didn't seem quite fully developed, and the doctor's character didn't seem believable. But, as I said, quite well-written.
  • (4/5)
    Well written, moving story of two boys growing up together.
  • (4/5)
    It?s 1962 in rural Minnesota, near the South Dakota border, and seventeen year old Matt Garth is practically a second son in the family of his best friend, Johnny Dunbar. Johnny?s father is the local doctor and when a young woman is shot by her boyfriend on Thanksgiving Day, she is treated by the doctor and recovers in the Dunbar?s home. Unfortunately, the young woman, Louisa, has more than recovery in mind.The story is told in the first person perspective of Matt as he looks back on this wind and snow swept winter of his youth. And, probably due to this limited perspective, the women in the story never seem to develop into fully realized characters. Mrs Dunbar?s passivity was a puzzle to me. Why Louisa herself was never taken to the hospital was also a question in the back of my mind. Perhaps it was just the way life was in this father, or in this case, doctor, knows best era. But these are really minor quibbles and the writing rises above them.Watson, author of the stunning Montana, 1948, is a lyrical storyteller and American Boy is a poignant coming of age tale well worth a read.
  • (4/5)
    Matthew Garth is a high school senior in the fall of 1962. He and his widowed mother live in Willow Falls, a small town in Southwest Minnesota. Although his mother works long hours at the local supper club, Matt doesn’t feel abandoned. He’s been accepted into the family of Dr. Dunbar, whose son Johnny is Matt’s best friend. Dr. Dunbar patiently and thoroughly explains the rudiments of medicine to the boys who are both interested in becoming doctors. So when their Thanksgiving meal is interrupted with news of a missing young woman, believed to have been shot by her boyfriend, the boys rally to join the search party, while Dr. Dunbar prepares his clinic to care for her. Louisa Lindahl will change everything about Matt’s relationship with the Dunbar family.

    This is a heartfelt story of one young man’s awakening, and the missteps of youth. Matt has always relied on Dr. Dunbar for advice and has taken the lessons he imparts, whether about medicine, sportsmanship or curbing one’s baser instincts, to heart. But sometimes the lessons we are taught are not necessarily the lessons we learn. His fascination – even obsession – with Louisa is understandable, but a recipe for disaster. The inevitable confrontations will change the way Matt sees himself and his place in the world. The few months following Thanksgiving 1962 will mark him and force him to reconsider his view of the American dream.

    Watson writes with such a sense of time and place as to put the reader right in the landscape of his novel. The reader feels chilled to the bone in a Minnesota blizzard, relishes in the warmth of a fire, and enjoys the flush that results from a sensual kiss. The writing is spare but fraught with tension. My loyalties shifted in the course of the novel, just as Matt’s did. I’ve read two of his previous novels - Montana 1948 and Justice. Once again, Watson has written a novel this is both specific to a time and place, and yet universal in its themes. Watson’s characters are good, flawed, admirable, loathsome, confused, and certain; their situations may be unique but their emotions strike a chord in all of us.
  • (4/5)
    3.5 starsIt is the 1960s. Matthew and Johnny (both 17 years old) are best friends. Matt only has his mom and they are just getting by. Johnny's dad is the local doctor and his family is very well off. Matt spends most of his time at Johnny's place. Both boys are interested in following in Dr. Dunbar's footsteps by becoming doctors. When a local young woman is found shot, Dr. Dunbar takes her home (where he also has his clinic) to take care of her and the boys, especially Matt, take a particular interest. It started off really well, but then slowed down for me... slowed down to regular teenage boy life in the 60s. It did pick up a bit again at one point in the book, but overall, it was “good”, I thought. I have to admit that I didn't really like any of the characters. It was easy to read, though, and I'll probably try another by Watson.