Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: Stories from Justice, Larry Watson


This has been sitting on my bookshelf for years and I didn't realize it was a collection of short stories, nor did I realize they were linked and leading up to Montana 1948. I have read two of the seven stories so far. The first entitled "Julian Hayden" tells the story of a very young man who pulls up stakes and moves with his mother to Montana because land is cheap and he is not thriving in Iowa. He leaves his sister behind because he doesn't feel she is up to frontier life. He makes arrangements with a minister that his sister will tutor his daughters but will not do any manual labor. Guess what? The ending is surprising and somewhat violent. The second story, "Enid Garling", tells the story of Julian's marriage. 

I like Watson's writing so much. He is direct and seldom uses an unnecessary word. I don 't know why I am so drawn to stories set in the West but I am. Perhaps this is the style of writing I read most as a kid. 


Todd Mason

George Kelley 


Todd Mason said...

You might like a long-delayed FFB I have coming up. Who do you think of when you think of those you read most often then?

Lean prose that isn't going out of its way to show how tough the writer is (vs. perhaps the characters) is not a way to lose me as a reader, either.

Todd Mason said...

What I suspect is the first third or perhaps quarter of mine is up! How's that for a weary sigh-bait?

Jeff Meyerson said...

I read this a while ago.

Just read Tessa Hadley's collection SUNSTROKE and Other Stories. I am pretty sure you had a Hadley story on a Wednesday but I haven't been able to find it. The two stories that spoke to me seem autobiographical in tone (if not necessary substance; I don't know). Hadley was born in 1956 so would have been 16 in 1972 and 18 in 1974. Her characters in these stories are that exact age.

IN "Buckets of Blood," Hilary is the middle child of seven growing up in a vicarage near Cambridge. On her holidays she takes a six hour bus trip to visit her older sister in college in Bristol. But when she gets there, she discovers Sheila is not at the dorm but rather at her boyfriend's squalid squat, where she is undergoing a painful miscarriage. Hilary is on her own for several days, or with Sheila's friends. Hadley gets everything so precise that you can see and feel the time and place. Very well done.

The other unhappy teen was Gina in 1974, visiting a friend of her mother who she had a sort of crush on, in Cornwall I believe, in "A Card Trick." This is not as precise as the former, but she gets the unhappiness of the girl down clearly.

Todd Mason said...

August 4th of this year, Jeff, for Patti's review of Hadley's "Coda" (from THE NEW YORKER, 2 Aug 21).

George said...

I'm going to have to give Larry Watson a try! This book might be a good starting place.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Thanks, Todd. I know I checked August (and July, and June) so don't ask me how I missed it.

Todd Mason said...

The heavy early of the hour, Jeff? I'm certainly still feeling it, as I beat my 78-word sentences into mere 23-worders.

Margot Kinberg said...

I really like Larry Watson's writing, Patti, although I admit I've not read all of his work. There's something about his style that simply draws me in. I feel what's going on in the story without it being overdone, if I can put it that way. Thanks for the recommendation.

TracyK said...

This sounds really good. I guess I am going to have to add it to my list of short story books to buy. I did order a copy of LIFE SENTENCE AND OTHER STORIES by Keith Taylor and received it a few days ago.