Let Him Go

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Product Details

$24.00  $22.08
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
5.8 X 0.9 X 8.0 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Larry Watson is the author of Montana 1948, American Boy, Justice, White Crosses, and several other novels. He is the recipient of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, the Friends of American Writers award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and many other prizes and awards. He teaches writing and literature at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he lives with this wife, Susan.


Praise for Let Him Go

"In Let Him Go, Larry Watson evokes the deepest kind of suspense: that based upon the fact that humans are unpredictable and perhaps ultimately unknowable--even to their most intimate associates. This fierce, tense book is beautifully written, with spare and economical prose out of which blooms a vivid and uncompromising portrait of the modern West. A brilliant achievement."
--Alice LaPlante, bestselling author of Turn of Mind

"Let Him Go is as commanding as its title: you will be immediately gripped by the narrow-eyed, big-hearted pursuit of a child in danger. This is a literary thriller of the highest order--on par with Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone--an unrelenting quest through an unforgiving landscape and deadly family web."
--Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon and The Wilding

"Two decades after Montana 1948 (Milkweed National Fiction Prize winner), Watson returns with a powerful story of two headstrong women, each with an unshakable resolve to hold on to what family means.... Bold writing holds the reader's attention right up to the book's shattering conclusion. An outstanding work that is sure to expand Watson's audience of devoted readers. Not to be missed."
--Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

"Slyly suspenseful, highly engaging.... Known for crisp images, resonant backdrops, and sharp characterizations drawn without flashy over-accessorizing, Watson's latest traces the desperate lengths families will go to in order to protect their own."
--Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"What emerges most forcefully [in Let Him Go] is the profound, if largely unspoken, love shared by a taciturn man and woman who dig deeply into long-dormant reservoirs of grit.... Superb storytelling from a writer who continues to find a special kind of melancholy poetry in the unforgiving landscape of the mountain states."

"For all its violence and portents of violence, as well as a number of surprising plot turns, Let Him Go is at its heart a character study, not only of George and Margaret but also its other characters, all of whom are brought to life in prose that is both restrained and exquisite."
--The Chicago Tribune

"If there were ever any question about Larry Watson's reputation as one of the finest writers working today, there shouldn't be anymore. Not after Let Him Go, Watson's ninth book of fiction, and his best.
--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"With publication of his ninth, Let Him Go, Watson is at the top of his writing skills in a fast-paced story of marital love, family violence and small-town justice."
--St. Paul Pioneer Press

"Let Him Go is a love story and a testament to the abiding bonds that can join two people together."
--Iowa City Gazette

"[Larry Watson's] spare, effortless prose conjures the American West in the 1950s in the haunting way that readers have come to depend upon."
--Wisconsin State Journal

"Let Him Go is beautifully written suspense."
--Capitol Times

"As a reader, you know instinctively that -- even as Watson takes his time revealing essential information about the plot and setting -- there's no need to rush him. You know he'll eventually get around to explaining everything you need to know about his characters. And you know, when the facts are laid plain, it will have been worth the wait."
--Iowa Press-Citizen

"A well-told, enjoyable story, told with heart and a fine eye for detail. It captures the powerful familial instincts humans possess."
--Wichita Eagle

"The sort of book that puts the shine back on genre as an adjective to describe fiction."

"Larry Watson's sparse language pummels the reader like icy winds racing down a North Dakota highway, conveying the looming consequences of hastily made choices, of passions gone amuck.... a master storyteller of the American West."
--Shelf Awareness for Readers

"Hooked from the first page. It doesn't happen often. Watson's perfect combination of style and story create a propulsive reading experience. Set in North Dakota and Montana in 1959, this compact novel delivers a multi-layered portrait of a long marriage, a child in peril, a couple of superbly crafted villains, and a fascinating cast of characters and family members met along the way. It is spare (like the Western novel it is) yet absolutely brimming and it made me wonder how he did it."
--Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

"I loved this book. Larry writes in such stark sharp prose, telling a story that is heartbreaking. His characters are outlined with an emotional precision that is perfect."
--Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

"Larry Watson is, quite simply, an American classic. He uses language as stark and spare as the landscape he describes and direct and powerful as the people in two families caught up in a conflict that is bound for tragedy. If there is one voice for the northern plains, it is his."
--Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

"A truly impressive read."
--Jackie Blem, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver CO

"I loved Let Him Go, so real, and heartbreaking, and tragic. It never let me go as I took a trip with George and Margaret Blackledge. Larry Watson is a master at setting up the gut-wrenching atmosphere and these hard-scrabble characters. My heart went out to them in their desperate situation and their dead end choices. Brilliant!"
--Jason Kennedy, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

"Larry Watson has set a story of loss, and of two women with competing claims on a small boy, in the raw West only three years later than his classic Montana 1948. This tale of strong women, hard luck families, and family bonds inexplicably persistent even in the most tattered of families, spins out the consequences arising from unresolved grief--grief at the loss of a son that perhaps can be staunched by an inaccessible grandson. It's a story of unintended consequences set into motion by single-minded determination to ease the grief. A very powerful and moving visit back to the unvarnished West of half-a century ago where justice and rule of law were spotty and sometimes very personal."
--Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

"A rare and scintillating and utterly mesmerizing novel."
--Chris Faatz, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

"My favorite book so far this year, Let Him Go is absolutely perfect."
--Dianah Hughley, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

"Spare, great characterization, really strong."
--Emily Crowe, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

"What an incredible read...Could this be his best book ever?"
--Judy Schultz, The Book Mark, St. Peter, MN

"Like far-off black clouds with the faint sound of thunder on the horizon, Let Him Go crescendos into a violent northern Plains thunderstorm.... Larry Watson has written a novel that will rival Montana 1948 in character development, storyline, and excitement."
--Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

"Let Him Go is brilliant, devastating. I will be reading more Larry Watson."
--J Ganz, Books-A-Million, Dickson City, PA

"Watson's best work so far."
--Marilyn Sieb, L.D. Fargo Library, Lake Mills, WI

Praise for Larry Watson


"Watson writes with ruthless honesty about his characters' stunted dreams, unpredictable emotions and outbursts of senseless violence, showing once again that he understands not only the West but the untamed hearts that have roamed it."
--Publishers Weekly

"Watson's powerful prose easily recreates the vivid beauty of Big Sky country."

"Graceful shifts from observation to insight, capturing the spare beauty of the landscape."
--New York Times Book Review

"Watson's sinewy third-person narrative dips into each character's perspective. He also makes superb use of dialogue, both to illuminate his characters and to dramatize the intensity of their conflicts."
--Los Angeles Times

"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."
--The Nation

Praise for American Boy


"...powerful and exquisitely crafted...Watson's portraits of small town life and the people who live it--mostly during the 1940s and 1950s--are compassionate and true."
--Steve Mills, Chicago Tribune's Printers Row

"There are a handful of writers I push on everyone I meet, and Larry Watson is one of them. For the past twenty years has quietly penned some of the wisest, most powerful novels in my library, and I am thrilled to make room on the shelf for his latest, a gripping, poignant coming-of-age story that opens with a gunshot that will ultimately bury its bullet in your heart. American Boy is an American classic."
--Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon

"Larry Watson's latest book, American Boy, may be his best yet. With the patient skill of a seasoned writer, Watson tells an engaging coming-of-age story of a young man in Willow Falls, Minnesota during the 1960s. Youthful passions, heartbreaks, loyalties and moral uncertainties are all rendered in vivid color."
--David Rhodes, author of Jewelweed

"[Watson will] harvest a bumper crop of readers this autumn."
--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"[Watson] spins charm and melancholy around the same fingers, the result a soft but urgent rendering of a young man coming of age in rural America that is recognizable to even those of us who were never there."
--Denver Post

"Watson is sure-footed on familiar ground in American Boy.... [he's] made something of a specialty of that space where teenagers struggle between hormonal urges and moral decisions as they grope toward adulthood. His evocation of that difficult passage feels as sure as his evocation of small-town life in the upper Midwest more than one generation ago.... As convincing as it is lonely and bleak."
--Billings Gazette

"Watson has penned some of the best contemporary fiction about small-town America, and his new novel does not disappoint.... With his graceful writing style, well-drawn characters, and subtly moving plot, Watson masterfully portrays the dark side of small-town America. Highly readable and enthusiastically recommended."
--Library Journal (STARRED)

"Eighteen years ago, Milkweed published Watson's breakthrough novel, Montana 1948; now the author returns to Milkweed with another powerful coming-of-age story about a teenage boy [Matthew Garth] being shocked into maturity by a moment of sudden and unexpected violence.... Like Holden Caulfield trying to catch innocent children before they fall off the cliff adjoining that field of rye, Matthew struggles to save the Dunbars and, in so doing, save himself. He fails, of course, but that's the point of much of Watson's always melancholic, always morally ambiguous fiction: coming-of-age is about failure as much as it is about growth."
--Booklist (STARRED)

"Watson's new novel about a young man's coming-of-age in rural Minnesota during the early '60s never veers off course."
--Publishers Weekly

"Watson's sixth novel resonates with language as clear and images as crisp as the spare, flat prairie of its Minnesota setting.... A vivid story of sexual tension, family loyalty and betrayal."

"A true, realistic, and intelligent novel.... Watson does a wonderful job of peering under the masks of these small town folks and helping us see what their real selves are."
--Carl Hoffman, Boswell Book Company

"Nobody knows the heartland better than Larry Watson and no one is better at conveying its stark landscape and the stark truths that can arise from living in it.... Watson perfectly evokes an era while telling a story that is timeless."
--Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books

"Utterly breath-taking.... I recommend it without reserve to every reader who appreciates life and fine literature."
--Nancy Simpson, Book Vault

Awards for Montana 1948