Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016; 341 pages
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.My Thoughts:
As Good As Gone is a bit of a modern-day update of the classic western novel, and is not exactly the sort of fiction I normally read. But I've heard so many good reports about Watson's Montana 1948, I decided to step outside my comfort zone for once, and take a chance.
It's an interesting book — well drawn characters, and a pretty good story that held my attention...mostly. The tale develops in a very leisurely fashion, and the focus keeps changing from one character to another, and after a while I just really wanted it to go ahead and wrap up.
Calvin Sidey was an intriguing guy and I kept hoping he'd finally demonstrate some real growth — that was the main thing that kept me reading. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say that I was not entirely happy with the final outcome.
So not a terrible read, but not destined for my "faves" list. However, I was impressed enough with Watson's writing to want to take a look at some of his earlier work. And that's definitely a good result.
(Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one tried to influence my opinion of the book.)
Qualifies for the following reading challenges: Historical Fiction; New Authors; New To Me; What's In A Name.