Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Work Of Quiet Subtlety!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         William Maxwell is one of those underrated authors, like Dawn Powell, who need to be rediscovered.  "So Long, See You Tomorrow" is a coming of age novel--cue in "To Kill A Mockingbird"--that, unlike Lee's work--and I certainly don't mean any disrespect--has a quiet kind of tension that slowly builds.

                                            Two boys are neighbors, and on the social ends of the ladder.   One is distinctly middle class, while the other boy, Cletus, is from the wrong side of the tracks. The narrator, looking back on all this, like Scout, recalls the summer of 1921 when the houses colluded in an adulterous affair, leading to murder.  The past is being re-examined, because the narrator, as a child, did not know how to express concern for his friend, Cletus, the killer's son, who vanishes, and the narrator is never given a chance to make amends.

                                             The novel is his amends to Cletus, who, in this fictional world, he thinks may be out there, and hopes he reads it.  Now, that might have been an interesting way to continue the story.  But, good as the story is, Maxwell is more interested in nuance, mood, and feeling.  The atmosphere of a hot, Illinois summer, is beautifully evoked, and everything wrapped up in what amounts almost to a novella.

                                               Maybe Maxwell's quiet intensity, rather than bombastic fireworks, kept him from hitting the literary heights he should have reached.  But his work is still in print, and, in these times, that says something.

                                                 Read his work, before it disappears entirely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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