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Justice by Larry Watson


by Larry Watson

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This prequel to [Montana 1948] helps give us the background on the Hayden family and how they came to be the adults we find in that other work.

This book is more of a young adult novel about the relationship between fathers and sons, and between brothers. There is some great dialogue. And Watson has a talent for describing time & place. But, in my opinion, [Montana 1948] is the better book. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 26, 2016 |
Very spare group of short stories about the people and places first met in Watson's Montana 1948. Very good! ( )
  Hope_H | Jan 15, 2016 |
The Book Report: A collection of previously published short pieces, Justice tells the backstory of the Haydens of Bentrock, Montana, the family at the center of Watson's one bestselling novel Montana 1948. We meet patriarch Julian Hayden in 1899, barely dry behind the ears and ready to take on the world; his shy, retiring, high-strung wife Enid on the day she married him; his two sons on the day childhood ended for both, in which the seeds of Montana 1948 are explicitly sown; Wesley's short, abortive run for freedom from the weight of expectations sparks at a terrible family Thanksgiving dinner; Julian's and Wesley's deputy and general sad-sack, Len McAuley, comes in from the pointlessness of secondary characterization in unexpected and poignant ways; and then the marriage and parenthood of North Dakotan steel magnolia Gail and Wesley, a life started in, and blighted by, the shadows of the Hayden family legacy.

My Review: This is decidedly not Montana 1948. It's perfectly good read on its own, actually, just as character sketches of a family and its effects on the world at large, and its costs to the members thereof. I can't complain about anything here, because Dr. Watson is a prose stylist whose direct, pared down artistry is very appealing to me. I can't urge all and sundry to rush out and buy a copy, either, because the book is a collection of short stories with all the cultural freight implicit in that description. Tastes and hints and pieces are the stuff of short stories, and that is both a strength and a weakness. Here, it's perfect, because the novel they prequelize (a rather lumpish and ungainly neologism, but "prefigure" is so stuffily snooty) is in itself a marvel of tight, concise storytelling that leaves acres of room to wonder about the people in it. But on its own, under its own steam, it's very good but not great. Good writing, interesting characters, but nothing...well, nothing to launch it to that next level, say like American Salvage or Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.

Still. You have definitely done worse by yourself than reading these seven stories. I'm glad I finally made room for them on the nightstand. Recommended. ( )
5 vote richardderus | Nov 5, 2010 |
  aletheia21 | Feb 17, 2007 |
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When Tommy Salter, Lester Hoenig, and the Hayden brothers left Bentrock, Montana, at dawn, only a gentle snow - flakes fat as bits of white cloth - fell from the November sky.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671535579, Paperback)

Larry Watson's bestselling novel Montana 1948 was acclaimed as "a work of art" (Susan Petro, San Francisco Chronicle), a prize-winning evocation of a time, a place, and a family. Now Watson returns to Montana 1948's vast landscape with a stunning prequel that illuminates the Hayden clan's early years and the circumstances that led to the events of Montana 1948.

In Montana, the Hayden name is law. For the Hayden boys, Wesley and Frank, their legacy carries an aura of privilege and power that doesn't stop at the Montana border, even when an ill-fated hunting trip makes them temporary outlaws. But what it means to bear the name is something each generation must discover for itself. From Julian, the hard-bitten and blustery patriarch, to Gail, Sheriff Wesley Hayden's spirited wife and moral compass, Larry Watson gives breath and blood to a remarkable family's struggles and rewards, and opens an evocative window on the very heart of the American West.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A collection of stories on the family of a county sheriff in Montana. Julian Hayden traces his early years as a struggling rancher, forced to take the law into his hands, Outside the Jurisdiction is on his sons, punished by a neighboring sheriff for molesting Indian girls, and Enid Garling is on Hayden's wife.… (more)

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