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As Good as Gone: A Novel by Larry Watson

As Good as Gone: A Novel

by Larry Watson

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1814793,145 (3.75)49



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Self-centered dysfunctional misfit, unable to control his temper and lacking in insight into himself and lacking ability to relate meaningfully to others. This was supposed to be a protagonist to root for? Throughout I was anticipating his evolution to a healthier human being. He seemed to have some good instincts and possibly could have helped his granddaughter’s tendency toward abusive relationships and his grandson’s inability to think for himself — very serious problems. But this did not happen. The guy just leaves the mess behind — a mess he’s only made worse. He goes back to his isolation, an utterly pathetic and underdeveloped child-man. A cynical cynical book. Could the author possibly be trying to depict a character worthy of admiration? The lone, self-reliant, rugged individualist? ( )
  seejewel | Sep 2, 2018 |
As Good As Gone by Larry Watson is another one of his rich stories about family, trust and reliability told in his resolute yet touching style that produces a powerful and heart felt story. Watson returns to his familiar territory of small town, Montana sets his tale in the early 1960’s.

By 1963 Calvin Sidey has spent a lifetime of leaving. He left his own parents to strike out on his own, he left America to go to war and he abandoned both his sobriety and his family after his wife’s death, he is most comfortable when alone, but when his estranged son, David, requests that he come and stay with his kids while he travels with his wife across Montana for her to have a hysterectomy, he agrees to return to the small town and oversee his two grandchildren. Sidey has his own way of dealing with things and it’s an old fashioned, hard core way of fists and threats so it isn’t too long before the atmosphere is one of tension and menace. Whether he is dealing with a neighbour’s wandering dog, his granddaughter’s abusive boyfriend or a derelict tenant of his son, Calvin acts from his gut. Calvin receives comfort from a neighbour, Beverly, but she can see that this is a man who is always ready to run and she shouldn’t plan on a long term relationship.

I enjoyed this novel very much as each family member had their own challenges and conflicts to deal with. In another era Calvin would have been a western hero, but his ways are not meant for modern times. With As Good As Gone, Watson has produced another book that helps define family loyalty and connections, through a story that is both suspenseful and dramatic. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 4, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“No matter how long they’ve been there, the people who live out here believe that whatever life demands of them they can meet it on their own. And perhaps they can. But Bill Sidey knows he’s not cut from that cloth. The infinite sky that inspires certainty in some people breeds doubt in him, and he’s never been sure what the truth of human endeavor is: Are we meant to do it on our own or with the help of others?”

A very well-written tale of family, exile, and the ties that bind no matter what. Ultimately, it's about the folly of rejecting the help one needs in favor of going it alone, whether out of fear, pride, or ignorance. The sense of place - a large town on the Montana prairie in 1963 - is excellent, with the changing landscape echoing the broader changes becoming evident in the Western ethos. ( )
1 vote katiekrug | Jun 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
That crotchety old man! I rooted for him through the whole book.

Larry Watson’s books are peopled with individuals who remain true to their characters. As we get to know the members of the Sidey family and the townspeople, he shares a piece of the puzzle along the way, then another piece falls into place, but you find at the end, he’s withheld some of the pieces. We are left to puzzle out some things on our own.

Marjorie Sidey needs an operation; her husband, Bill, takes her to the hospital hundreds of miles away, leaving his estranged father, Calvin Sidey, in charge of the children, Ann, 17, and Will, 11. With the old Montana cowboy, nothing has changed.

Spare writing, spare landscape, spare strings tying the family together.

Very good, but I liked his Montana 1948 half a star better. ( )
  countrylife | May 4, 2017 |
I loved this book! ( )
  PMelchior | Mar 13, 2017 |
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"Calvin Sidey is a cowboy of the old-school, no-guff sort--steely, hardened, with his own personal code. It's the 1960s, and he's living off the grid in a stifling trailer on the prairie when his adult son, Bill, seeks his help. A mostly absentee father, and a virtual no-show as a grandfather, Calvin nevertheless reluctantly agrees to stay with his grandchildren for a week. He decamps for his son's dark and musty basement, to the small town where he once was a mythic figure, and soon enough problems arise: a boy's attentions to seventeen-year-old Ann are increasingly aggressive, and a group of reckless kids portend danger for eleven-year-old Will. Calvin only knows one way to solve a problem: the Old West way, in which scores are settled, ultimatums are issued, and your gun is always loaded. In the changing culture of the 1960s, Calvin isn't just a relic, he's a wild card and a threat."… (more)

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