Montana 1948: A Novel, by Larry Watson

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Montana 1948: A Novel, by Larry Watson

Montana 1948: A Novel, by Larry Watson

Montana 1948: A Novel, by Larry Watson

Free PDF Montana 1948: A Novel, by Larry Watson

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Montana 1948: A Novel, by Larry Watson

“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.

  • Sales Rank: #70816 in Books
  • Brand: Watson, Larry
  • Published on: 2007-05-25
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 7.50″ h x 5.50″ w x .25″ l,
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 186 pages

From Publishers Weekly
Watson’s novel about a middle-class Montana family torn apart by scandal during the summer of 1948 was awarded the Milkweed National Fiction Prize.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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”
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews
Watson (In a Dark Time, 1980), winner of the 1993 Milkweed National Fiction Prize, offers a lean, gaunt narrative rich with implication about a 12-year-old boy who witnesses the anguish of his sheriff father, who is forced to arrest his own brother for rape. David Hayden, now a history teacher, narrates the events of over 40 years ago, when his father, trained as a lawyer, was in his second term as sheriff of Bentrock, a small community of 2,000 close to the Canadian border. David’s grandfather was also once a sheriff in a place where the land is harsh, the wind strong, and the sky endless. Meanwhile, David’s Uncle Frank, a war hero, is a doctor, and the plot unfolds when Marie Little Soldier, the Haydens’ housekeeper, falls sick. She screams when Uncle Frank treats her–then reveals that Frank has a reputation as a rapist of Indian women. David’s father investigates and wrests from Frank a promise that he won’t rape any more Indians. But then Marie dies unexpectedly, and David reveals information that leads his father to suspect that Frank had something to do with the death. He arrests Frank, but locks him in his own basement instead of in jail. The rest of Watson’s story treats the consequences of that arrest: grandfather Hayden threatens his sheriff son, excusing the war hero uncle’s sexual rapacity as normal instinct (“You know Frank’s always been partial to red meat”); and Frank, after busting all the jelly and preserve jars in the basement where he’s imprisoned, kills himself, whereupon the sheriff packs up his wife and son and moves away. A literary page-turner, morally complex and satisfying in its careful accumulation of detail and in its use of landscape to reveal character. — Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
A Really different kind of story….but very thought provoking
By T.S
I was required to read this book for 9th grade class reading. After and while reading it we analyzed each important thing that happened, and through this I was able to see the brilliance in this small and simple book; the understated themes and moral questions that this little book brought up.

Set in the tiny fictional town of Bentrock Montana, this story follows the life of David, a twelve year old boy, and his family living there. His father, Wesley, is the town’s sherif, and his family, the Haydens’, has held power in the town for a long time, almost like a clan. His Uncle is a respected war hero and doctor, well liked by everyone; charming, charismatic, and funny. Indians also live there, and one, a young woman named Marie, works for Wesley, his wife Gail, and their son David, who loves her. Everything seems good and simple and nice, with the worst crimes in the town being a couple of drunks occasionally getting into a bar fight.

But then, Marie gets sick. And she tells Gail something that will forever change the family – Frank has molested her and raped countless other Indian women. Wesley is forced to choose between his family and what’s right.

This book is short and simply written, but conveys a lot of meaning within it. It’s a different book than most – dark but bright, friendly but icy and cold. It plunges you headfirst into an intense storyline.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Stunning story full of shocks and surprises….
By Savvy-Suz
In the hands of the very skillful story teller, Larry Watson, this novel shines the light on the justice and morality of a small western town at a time when many people chose to look the other way at certain social injustices.

David Hayden narrates this stunning story as an adult recalling the events as he remembers them when he was twelve years old. His narrative is crisp with all of the openess and clarity characteristic of an observant young man, but seasoned with age,

He tells us at the beginning of the novel……”From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting that any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fade them…”

And from there, we enter the town of Bentrock, Montana, where we are slowly and lucidly made aware of the horrific abuse of power taking place and are unable to look away from the unconsciable and abhorrent events that are unfolding.

It was both distressing and compelling to read such a heart-wrenching book that took place in the notorious lawlessness of the fabled ‘Wild West’

Perhaps the legendary Old West might have, in reality, been a far more civilized and secure place than the America of today.

Justice in ‘them good ole days’ was often served up rather quickly and often with a sense of moral integrity.

Larry Watson very discerningly crafts a disturbing, yet touching story, a story that is at once both highly believable and shockingly unbelievable!

America loves it’s heroes, it’s prodigal sons, the godliness of it’s doctors……those men of power that seem to be above reproach. Unfortunately, there are always ‘bad apples’ in the best of the bunch and we find one here.

In 1948, the Indian woman was not given a fair place in her society and was thus a easy victim for an abuser. Even today, more native Indian are raped than any of the other American ethnic groups. I found the following information on-line to be ghastly and abominable…….

“Colonizers have long tried to crush the spirit of the Indian peoples and blunt their will to resist colonization. One of the most devastating weapons of conquest has been sexual violence. In the eyes of colonizers, Indian bodies are inherently “dirty.” White Californians of the 1860s called Native people “the dirtiest lot of human beings on earth.” Violence done to “dirty” or “impure” bodies simply does not count”

As Montana 1948 unfolds and the truth becomes evident, justice seeks to prevail.

However, a few unexpected twists and turns at the end add a surprising punch to this very well written family and societal drama.

As Cormac McCarthy’s Sheriff Bell in No Country for Old Men opines at the end of his book when a reporter questions him about how crime has gotten so out of hand.

Sheriff Bell responds……”It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Any time you quit hearin ‘Sir and Mam’ the end is pretty much in sight. I told her……..you finally get into the sort of breakdown in mercantile ethics that leaves people settin around out in the desert dead in their vehicles and by then it’s just too late.”

Seems to me that Sheriff Hayden, like Sheriff Bell understood the changes that were taking place all too well with his final fervent remark as he slammed his hand down on the dinner table so hard that the plates and silverware jumped:

“Don’t blame Montana.” he thundered. ” Don’t ever blame Montana!”

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Great read!
By Josh
I’m not much for reviews, but I really enjoyed this book and had trouble putting it down. Watson does such a great job describing the characters and making you feel like you’re an invisible observer as events unfold. It’s almost like you already know the characters.

I remember several times in the story I would read a sentence or two and those would be followed by another “extra sentence” almost that seemed so perfectly placed. This “extra sentence” conveyed so much emotion and went a step further than I believe most authors would have gone. It’s as if Watson adds this extra sentence and you think to yourself after reading it, “you know, I would feel the same way if I was in this situation,” but you would’ve never thought of it on your own if he hadn’t taken the time and effort to craft such a thought. Watson makes the effort to capture every moment and ensures the reader can grasp the emotion.

I felt really connected to this book and maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much. However, I think anyone can appreciate a story written with such characterization and emotion. Watson doesn’t waste time fluffing it up to make it some overdone masterpiece of American literature. Sometimes less is more and that’s what makes this book so outstanding!

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