SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW by William Maxwell

In a small, rural 1920s farming community, two families become friends.  The bored spouses of each family begin an affair that tears the two families apart,culminating in one of the husbands shooting and killing the other.

It is something of a coming of age book, told in the first person by the friend of the son of one of the men in question.  It is not a mystery.  It is not even a mystery why it happened.  It is just a slow, sad recollection of events of the narrator’s youth,  which slowly and quietly fleshes out the characters in spare descriptions, leaving us thinking of them as unremarkable parts of the unremarkable landscape.  The murder affects everyone, even our narrator, because nothing can be the same after such an act, and his fragile friendship crumbles instantly away.

It is about grief, and loss,  and about how we tell our stories,  and about memory, and how and what we remember.

What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory — meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion — is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling.

In talking about the past, we lie with every breath we draw.

Lovely book, a joy to read.

 

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