Saturday, July 11, 2009

Go With Me,Castle Freeman Jr.

"Chivalry isn't dead; it has just retreated to the backwoods of Vermont. Far beyond the range of leaf-peepers, quaint B&Bs and wealthy liberals lie millions of acres of dark forest, the kind of rich soil that chivalric romance has grown in for centuries. James Fenimore Cooper first saw the possibilities of moving the knights errant of medieval Europe to New England's woods, and now Castle Freeman Jr. performs an equally radical transplant with Go With Me, his oddly witty tale of a damsel in distress."
Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

"This gem of a novel by Vermont author Freeman may bring him the larger audience he so richly deserves....Freeman turns this fablelike story into a surprisingly suspenseful showdown. And the artful cutaways to the old-timers' priceless, extremely funny conversations add another level of richness to the tale." Booklist

"Loose and funny and, at a few key junctures, righteously bloody. The book takes just a few hours to read — about the running time of the swell indie movie someone should make from this offbeat charmer." Entertainment Weekly

I loved this book. The story goes right to the limit of my creepiness threshold with its subject matter. It is so suspenseful and even though it is modern it felt old in a classic way. You somehow feel like you're reading a book from a hundred years ago (I mean that in a complimentary way). You don't get to know a lot about the characters which had me completely intrigued and looking for meaning & back stories in every scrap of information that was given.

I loved the Greek chorus-like old men hanging out at the mill as the action with Lillian, Nate, and Lester kept moving closer and closer to the inevitable confrontation. My favorite old man proclamation is this one:

"Look, said Coop, "at least she had most of her clothes on. Girls you see today go around half naked."
"They do?" Whizzer asked.
"Sure," said Coop. "And, look: At least she don't have herself stuck all full of nuts and bolts like so many of them you see."
"Nuts and bolts?" Whizzer asked.
"Piercing," said D.B.
"What happened to the way these little girls dress themselves, you know? What about these kids you see today in school? Piercing? Bellies? Diamonds? I'm talking about girls twelve, thirteen years old. Not even high school. They dress the same way: You've got the little thing on top with the straps, you've got the bare belly, the tight jeans. That type of outfit, you used to have to pay money to see. You used to have to pay money and sit in the dark. Now you go into any middle school."
I love that whole passage. I would add to that the little tiny girls you see with things like "flirt", "sexy", or other skanky messages emblazoned across their t-shirts. Just so lovely.

This is one of those books that makes me frustrated with my own book reporting skills. I can't adequately convey how amazing this book is, how crisp the writing, and how powerful the story.

I think my absolute favorite part is the conversation between Lilian and Nate after they drop Lester off at his house. Nate, the man of few words is being bombarded with Lilian's line of questioning. She's getting her answers about Nate's dating life, why he helped her, and on and on, all through his taciturn one word answers. It culminates in this:
"What do you say? Will you go with me again? [Lillian]
"When?" [Nate]
"I don't mind."
"Whizzer didn't tell you to, you know."
"I know."
"Lester didn't tell you to."
"I know."
"I'm not them."
"No, you ain't."
Lillian opened the door to the truck and got out. She shut the door. She turned to Nate.
"I don't mind." (p.151-152)

I was so relieved that this conversation happened and that my pathological need for stories to end in romance (however so faint) could be satisfied with Lillian and Nate being together in some form.

Such an amazing book!

An interview with Castle Freeman Jr.

"If I had to select one book from 2008 to give a stranger boarding a plane, it would be Castle Freeman Jr.'s "Go With Me."
That wry, slim, beautifully made novel has everything a passenger might need to erase the toothpaste-tube claustrophobia of modern air travel: a taut mystery set in backwoods Vermont, a funny chorus of good ol' boys, a terrifying villain and the satisfying hint of a nascent love story."
-Karen R. Long

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