Sunday, June 26, 2016

"As Good As Gone"

Larry Watson grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota and his PhD in creative writing at the University of Utah. He is the author of the novels Let Him Go, Montana 1948, American Boy, In a Dark Time, White Crosses, Laura, Orchard, and Sundown, Yellow Moon; the fiction collection Justice; and the chapbook of poetry Leaving Dakota.

Watson applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, As Good as Gone, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Lon’s not from the reservation,” Bill said. It was the best argument he could muster.

Lon Black Pipe is, in the phrase that Tom and Don and many of the citizens of Gladstone would use, a bad Indian, which not only means that he’s not meek and deferential but that he’s downright difficult. Lon has served at least two terms in Deer Lodge State Prison, one for assault (he beat up a young cowboy so severely in a bar fight that there was serious doubt whether the cowboy would live), and one for grand theft auto. And those are only the crimes he’s been convicted of; he’s been suspected of committing many others in Gladstone and the surrounding region.

Although Bill knew all along about the connection between Brenda and Lon, he was trying to demonstrate that he did not share the prejudices of his co-workers and many of his fellow citizens. Most Indians are decent, hard-working people who deserve far better than they receive in this part of the world, and Bill long ago resolved to treat them fairly and respectfully, exactly the way he would behave toward white people and just how he would like to be treated.
Among the novel’s themes is how people, especially members of the Sidey family, fit—or don’t—with the larger community and its values. Some of the complications of that fitting in are illustrated in this passage. Bill Sidey is no bigot, yet his defense of Lonnie Black Pipe is pretty tepid. Furthermore, he doesn’t tell his employees that he and Lonnie have a history of friendship going all the way back to childhood. Bill’s relationship with Lonnie Black Pipe also plays a part in the violent confrontation later in the novel between Lon Black Pipe and Calvin Sidey, Bill’s father.
Visit Larry Watson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue