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All That I Have: A Novel by Castle Freeman…

All That I Have: A Novel

by Castle Freeman Jr.

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647186,178 (3.8)6



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Now this one was very good. Castle Freeman, Jr. has written an altogether enjoyable and compassionate book about a sheriff of a rural county in Vermont, whose marriage is faltering and a rival is threatening his position in an upcoming election. Lucian Wing holds to the principles he's been using since he joined local law enforcement and he sees no reason to alter course, despite Russian gangsters and home-grown threats.

The strength of All That I Have centers on Wing's voice. He's careful and thoughtful and has a dryly humorous way of expressing himself that makes every page a delight. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Jul 31, 2013 |
Lucian Wing is County Sheriff, has been for some years; he learned wisely from his old boss and predecessor, among the many things he learned: wait for things to come to you. Lucian pretty much applies that attitude to his whole way of life. He is laid back, easy going, patient, non-confrontational, let things work themselves out he believes; unfortunately his deputy sees things differently, his deputy, Lyle Keen, is young, wants results and thinks you must chase them; he wants Sheriff Wing's job.

A young tearaway, Sean 'Superboy' Duke, popular with the ladies, takes on more than he bargains for when he helps himself to something of value belonging the some unscrupulous big time Russian criminals resident in Sheriff Wing's county. Wing's way of handling the matter does not meet with his deputies approval, the old ways don't work today according to Keen, and with the next election for Sheriff looming, maybe Lucian should be worried.

It's a good story, but really it could be any story, for there is so much more to this than a good story. From the very first page Lucian, as he begins his tale, draws the reader into his private world and wins him over. Immediately one can hear the sound of his voice, easy, slow, gentle, it is almost impossible to read this fast, it would completely miss the point. Add to that the convincing dialogue, conversations comprising a string of short single line mild retorts; again one can hear the voices, the pace, so clearly.

Lucian is full of little snips of wisdom, he by his own admission is not an educated man, but you don't need to be educated to be wise, and Lucian is a wise man. He also has very dry, droll humour and wit, and the pages of this little book are filled with all this and much more. If there is a complaint about this book it could only be that it is that it is too short! One could listen to Lucian without ever tiring, whatever it is he has to say. One could learn a lot from this little book, one will certainly be entertained. ( )
1 vote presto | Apr 23, 2012 |
written 11/17/2011

All That I Have, like Go With Me, is an oddly engaging mix of black humor and suspense. Shortly after finding a naked Russian tied to a tree, Sheriff Lucius Wing is called to investigate a break-in at one of the big vacation places in a neighboring town. It soon becomes clear that something BIG and very dangerous is going on.

It's amazing what Freeman can do with 165 pages. This is not a genre crime novel or genre thriller - sure there is a crime or crimes and the situation must be resolved, and there is suspense, but the story is really about Lucius Wing, a laid back and patient man, with a dry sense of humor. He's having marital problems, and his deputy has his own ideas of how "sheriffing" should be done. This is a sort of 'tortoise and the hare' story, I suppose. I really, really enjoyed this (perhaps because the sheriff seems familiar to me)

The story is narrated by the sheriff himself and here is an example of his voice. This bit follows after Trooper Timberlake and the sheriff have found the angry, naked man tied to a tree. The sheriff has correctly surmised that the man is Russian:

"Do I know Russian?
I do not, no more than Trooper Timberlake does. 'Course I don't. With my crack about how he hadn't been trained right and I had, I was taking a little shot at Timberlake. I was sticking it to him, a little. Sure, I was. With the Timberlakes of this world, you almost have to stick it to them when you can, don't you? Timberlake don't mind. He's—what are you when you're padded all around, when they can't get to you? He's invulnerable. Taking a little shot at Timberlake is like shooting an elephant in the hindquarters with a BB gun: not only is he not hurt, you can't tell for sure whether he knows he's been hit."

This is a short, easy-to-read book with some measured suspense and a underlying theme that sticks with you. And it's good for more than a few chuckles. ( )
2 vote avaland | Apr 15, 2012 |
I am a Castle Freeman fan and this book confirms my sentiments. He packs so much in in under 200 pages. Once again, he brings rural Vermont to life through his characters. I loved the observations on what the rich and the poor do to the land and on sheriffing. For me, the fun is watching Lucian Wing - a great character - deal with the various deputies and law enforcers as they pursued superboy and the Russians. I found parts that I had to share out loud and read over again. ( )
  ccayne | Jul 8, 2009 |
What stands out for me in Castle Freeman Jr.’s “All That I Have” is the wonderful main character, Sheriff Lucian Wing, and the humor that runs throughout the book.

Set in a small town part of Vermont (though at times I kept moving that town to the south in my mind, given the manner of speaking of several characters), this book is a slice of life piece. True, there is a story arc and a climax…but there’s an overlying day to day-ness of it that suggest that the events, while memorable, are all part of a way of life.

That way of life is embodied in Lucian Wing – who turns his profession into a verb. Everything he does is part of “sheriffing” – a job passed on to him by his mentor, the previous Sheriff Wingate.

More than a job, though, it’s learning and knowing people. Or “getting” people.

“Well, it’s changing times, ain’t it? The way I said before, we’ve got different kinds of people passing through here from what there used to be. Take the Russians. Take Morgan Endor. People you never do get. But you can get them partway. The Russians? I get them. They’re evildoers. Morgan Endor? Don’t know. I could take you all the way, Sheriff. I doubt it. I doubt it like hell. But I don’t know.”

Being in the first person, being in Lucian’s mind is wonderful, a treasure trove of brilliant things thought in the simplest of ways. (At times his voices dances right up to the line of too folksy for me, but never quite crosses.) Even though his world is small, he’s seen a great deal, thought about even more…yet isn’t jaded. Well – except for the part of his mind that is closed off from the reader. And from himself. You know it’s there, but it’s never spoken of.

Wing sees his small world with clear eyes and through a lens of humor.

“The door had been broken in. It had been destroyed: glass all over the porch, all over the room inside, busted woodwork….He’d more than shattered the glass and the woodwork. He’d ripped the door and the upper hinge right out of the frame.”

“Cat burglar, here, it looks like,” I said.”

Though he left his part of the world for the navy, it was a brief interlude before returning, and with the knowledge that people are the same the world over, and maybe with a few more skills with which to handle them.

“In the shore patrol, I found out that I have a talent for talking to people that are very, very drunk. And I learned that if talking don’t work, you can do about anything you like with a drunk by grabbing tight hold of his nose and twisting. You won’t do permanent damage, but he will come along, plus he’ll put out quite a lot of blood, which changes the subject, makes him think, and impresses any friends of his who might want to join in the fun.”

And there are the usual small town characters in Lucian’s world…but they don’t come off as stereotypical. There’s something there, some depth that keeps them as a character and not a caricature.

“Addison’s what you could call a pillar of the community, though he’s the kind of pillar where the side facing out gets a little more paint than the side facing in.”

This small book is a story about a place, a people and a man. A life that is like many others, where drama comes in, dusts things up a bit, and then leaves…and the dust settles down again. It seems a funny, yet thoughtful example of the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” ( )
1 vote karieh | May 31, 2009 |
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Sharp at seven Tuesday morning, Clemmie, barefoot in her robe, was standing at the kitchen counter putting cream in her coffee when the squawker went.
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Sheriff Lucian Wing is an experienced, practical man who enforces the law in his corner of Vermont with a steady hand and a generous tolerance. Things are not as they should be, however, in the sheriff's small, protected domain. The outside world draws near, and threats multiply: the arrival in the district of a band of exotic, major league criminals; an ambitious and aggressive deputy; the self-destructive exploits of a local bad boy; Wing's discovery of a domestic crisis. The sheriff's response to these diverse challenges calls on all the personal resources he has cultivated during his working life: patience, tact, and (especially) humor.… (more)

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