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About Larry Watson
Larry Watson was born in 1947 in Rugby, North Dakota. He grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was educated in its public schools. Larry married his high school sweetheart, Susan Gibbons, in 1967. He received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota, his PhD from the creative writing program at the University of Utah, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Ripon College. Watson has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1987, 2004) and the Wisconsin Arts Board.
Larry Watson is the author of the novels IN A DARK TIME; MONTANA 1948; WHITE CROSSES; LAURA; ORCHARD; SUNDOWN, YELLOW MOON; AMERICAN BOY; LET HIM GO; AS GOOD AS GONE; the fiction collection JUSTICE; the chapbook of poetry LEAVING DAKOTA; and the poetry collection, LATE ASSIGNMENTS. Watson's fiction has been published in ten foreign editions, and has received prizes and awards from Milkweed Press, Friends of American Writers, Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association, New York Public Library, Wisconsin Library Association, Critics' Choice, and The High Plains Book Award. MONTANA 1948 was nominated for the first IMPAC Dublin international literary prize. The movie rights to MONTANA 1948 and JUSTICE have been sold to Echo Lake Productions and WHITE CROSSES and ORCHARD have been optioned for film. The 2020 movie version of his book LET HIM GO stars Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Lesley Manville, Jeffrey Donovan, and Boo Boo Stewart.
He has published short stories and poems in Gettysburg Review, New England Review, North American Review, Mississippi Review, and other journals and quarterlies. 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. His work has also been anthologized in Essays for Contemporary Culture, Imagining Home, Off the Beaten Path, Baseball and the Game of Life, The Most Wonderful Books, These United States, Writing America, West of 98, Tales of Two Americas, and Milwaukee Noir.
Watson taught writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point for 25 years before joining the faculty at Marquette University in 2003 as a Visiting Professor. He retired from Marquette in 2017. He has also taught and participated in writers conferences in Colorado, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, St. Malo and Caen, France.
Larry's latest novel, THE LIVES OF EDIE PRITCHARD, was published by Algonquin Books in 2020 . He and Susan live in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They have two daughters, Elly and Amy, and two grandchildren, Theodore and Abigail.
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In the summer of 1948, twelve-year-old David Hayden witnessed and experienced a series of cataclysmic events that would forever change the way he saw his family. The Haydens had been pillars of their small Montana town: David’s father was the town sheriff; his uncle Frank was a war hero and respected doctor. But the family’s solid foundation was suddenly shattered by a bombshell revelation.
The Hayden’s Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, tells them that Frank has been sexually assaulting his female Indian patients for years—and that she herself was his latest victim. As the tragic fallout 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 loyalty and justice.
Winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize
It’s been years since George and Margaret Blackledge lost their son James, and months since his widow, Lorna, took off with their only grandson and married Donnie Weboy. Margaret is resolved to find and retrieve the boy—while George is none too eager to stir up trouble. Soon, the Blackledges find themselves entangled with the entire Weboy clan, who are determined not to give up the boy without a fight.
The author of Montana 1948 returns to big sky country in midcentury America with a riveting novel pervaded with a sense of menace that “traces the desperate lengths families will go to in order to protect their own” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
“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 . . . A brilliant achievement.” —Alice LaPlante, New York Times–bestselling author of Turn of Mind
“An outstanding work that is sure to expand Watson’s audience of devoted readers. Not to be missed.” —Library Journal (starred review)
Larry Watson’s bestselling novel Montana 1948 was acclaimed as a “work of art,” a prize-winning evocation of a time, a place, and a family (San Francisco Chronicle). Justice is the stunning prequel that illuminates the Hayden clan’s early years, and the circumstances that led to the events of Montana 1948. With the precision of a master storyteller, Watson moves seamlessly through the decades and among the strong and hard-bitten characters that make up the Hayden family, and in the process opens an evocative window on the very heart of the American West.
“An engrossing story of love, familial relationships, and secrets . . . re-creates the vivid beauty of Big Sky country.” —Booklist
“Filled with rugged prose sometimes as biting as a northern plains wind.” —The Washington Post
“Surprises and scenes of dramatic power punctuate the narrative . . . Throughout, 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 (starred review)
Willow Falls, Minnesota, 1962. The shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events in the life of seventeen-year-old Matthew Garth. A close friend of the prosperous Dunbar family, Matthew is present in Dr. Dunbar’s home office when the victim is brought in. The sight of Louisa Lindahl—beautiful and mortally wounded—makes an indelible impression on the young man.
Fueled 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. Larry Watson’s tale heart-breaking tale “resonates with language as clear and images as crisp as the spare, flat prairie of its Minnesota setting” (Kirkus Reviews).
An Esquire Best Book of 2011
From acclaimed novelist Larry Watson, a multigenerational story of the West told through the history of one woman trying to navigate life on her own terms.
Edie—smart, self‑assured, beautiful—always worked hard. She worked as a teller at a bank, she worked to save her first marriage, and later, she worked to raise her daughter even as her second marriage came apart. Really, Edie just wanted a good life, but everywhere she turned, her looks defined her. Two brothers fought over her. Her second husband became possessive and jealous. Her daughter resented her. And now, as a grandmother, Edie finds herself harassed by a younger man. It’s been a lifetime of proving that she is allowed to exist in her own sphere. The Lives of Edie Pritchard tells the story of one woman just trying to be herself, even as multiple men attempt to categorize and own her.
Triumphant, engaging, and perceptive, Watson’s novel examines a woman both aware of her power and constrained by it, and probes the way perceptions of someone in a small town can shape a life through the decades.
It’s 1963, and Calvin Sidey, one of the last of the old cowboys, has long ago left his family to live a life of self-reliance out on the prairie. He’s been a mostly absentee father and grandfather until his estranged son asks him to stay with his grandchildren, Ann and Will, for a week while he and his wife are away. So Calvin agrees to return to the small town where he once was a mythic figure, to the very home he once abandoned.
But trouble soon comes to the door when a boy’s attentions to seventeen-year-old Ann become increasingly aggressive and a group of reckless kids portend danger for eleven-year-old Will. Calvin knows only one way to solve problems: the Old West way, in which scores are settled and ultimatums are issued and your gun is always loaded. And though he has a powerful effect on those around him--from the widowed neighbor who has fallen under his spell to Ann and Will, who see him as the man who brings a sudden and violent order to their lives--in the changing culture of the 1960s, Calvin isn’t just a relic; he’s a wild card, a danger to himself and those who love him.
In As Good as Gone, Larry Watson captures our longing for the Old West and its heroes, and he challenges our understanding of loyalty and justice. Both tough and tender, it is a stunning achievement.
The horrific murder and suicide leave the community reeling. Speculation about Raymond’s motives run rampant. Political scandal, workplace corruption, financial ruin, adultery, and jealousy are all cited as possible catalysts. But in the end, the truth behind the day’s events died with those two men. And for Gene and his friend, the tragedy is a turning point, both in their lives and in their friendship.
Nearly forty years later, Gene’s friend, a writer, revisits the tragedy and tries to unravel the mystery behind one man’s inexplicable actions. Through his own recollections and his fiction–sometimes impossible to separate–he attempts to make sense of a senseless act and, in the process, to examine his youth, his friendship with Gene, and the love they both had for a beautiful girl named Marie.
Spare, haunting, lyrical, Sundown, Yellow Moon is a piercing study of love and betrayal, grief and desire, youth and remembrance. Using a brilliant, evocative fiction-within-fiction structure, Larry Watson not only brings to life a distinct period in history but, most affectingly, reveals the interplay of memory, secrets, and the passage of time.
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respect city. Now, fourteen authors who’ve experienced life in the Cream City share its mysteries in Milwaukee Noir.
With stories from: Jane Hamilton, Reed Farrel Coleman, Valerie Laken, Matthew J. Prigge, Shauna Singh Baldwin, Vida Cross, Larry Watson, Frank Wheeler Jr., Derrick Harriell, Christi Clancy, James E. Causey, Mary Thorson, Nick Petrie, and Jennifer Morales.
Praise for Milwaukee Noir
“Luxuriate in the seedy, wallow in the angry and shiver at the horrors that surely await you around the corner . . . The sheer localness of Milwaukee Noir is superb, and the seediness of many characters here would qualify them for membership in a Tom Waits song.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“A very strong collection of short fiction. . . . A richly textured collection that is, by turns, gripping, thought provoking, and simply entertaining.” —Booklist
“The violent, dark stories in this anthology fit the bill perfectly with the intention, as editor Hennessy writes, to be social commentary . . . . Tales by Jane Hamilton and Christi Clancy stand out, evidence that ordinary people can get swept up in hatred, even if they did not start out living with violence, drunkenness, or poverty.” —Library Journal
“Milwaukee bookseller and writer Hennessy does justice to the harsher aspects of his hometown in this fine anthology . . . The 14 contributors show that violence is not a prerequisite to crafting a haunting depiction of despair . . . The selections make the different neighborhoods, seedy or otherwise, come to life, even for those who have never set foot in them.” —Publishers Weekly
“Fourteen free-wheeling stories document the grit and glory of Milwaukee . . . A nod to Milwaukee’s blue-collar heritage, a frank look at racial disharmony, and a peek at the future make Hennessy’s collection a find for fans of urban noir.” —Kirkus Reviews
Sonja Skordahl, a Norwegian immigrant, came to America looking for a new life. Instead, she settled in Door County, Wisconsin, and married Henry House—only to find herself defined by her roles as wife and mother. Destiny lands Sonja in the studio of Ned Weaver, an internationally acclaimed painter. There she becomes more than his model and more than a mere object of desire; she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known, much to the chagrin of the artist’s wife. When both Ned and Henry insist on possessing Sonja, their jealousies threaten to erupt into violence—as she struggles to appease both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self.