As Good As Gone

img_5180Author: Larry Watson

Publisher: Algonquin

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher


Blurb: The American West is bestselling author Larry Watson’s forte, and in this, his tenth novel, he has created his most vivid, genuine antihero yet in Calvin Sidey, a man stuck in a myth.

Calvin Sidey, steely, hardened, with his own personal code, is one of the last cowboys. It’s the 1960s, and he’s living off the grid in a trailer on the prairie when his adult son, Bill, seeks his help. A mostly absentee father and grandfather, Calvin nevertheless agrees to stay with his grandchildren for a week. He decamps for his son’s house in the small town where he once was a mythic figure, and soon enough problems arise: a boy’s attentions to seventeen-year-old Ann are increasingly aggressive, and a group of reckless kids portend danger for eleven-year-old Will. Calvin only knows one way to solve a problem: the Old West way, in which ultimatums are issued and your gun is always loaded.

In the changing culture of the 1960s, Calvin isn’t just a relic; he’s a wild card. At the same time, his old-school ways exert a powerful effect on those around him, from the widowed neighbor, Beverly Lodge, who feels herself falling for him and wants to be part of his life, to his grandchildren. Ann and Will see in their grandfather a man who brings a sudden, if shocking, order to their lives, as Calvin terrorizes those who have often terrorized them.

With the crisp, restrained prose for which Larry Watson is revered, As Good as Gone is a story of a man increasingly at odds with the world. This is Larry Watson at his best.


Review: This book reminds me why I read romances. While it’s beautifully written and tells a story of lives lived and the possibility of redemption, in the end I’m sad. There’s no happily ever after, no magical elixir, there’s just life and those of us living it, failing to connect on multiple levels.

Calvin Sidey ran away from his family many times. Instead of fulfilling his father’s wishes by following him in the family real estate business, he ran off to war. While his wife was alive he tried the normal, but after she died he abandoned his two children and left them,  which makes me wonder why on earth his son Bill would ask him for help. I think it’s like Bill himself wondered– his father’s leaving caused him to suffer fear of abandonment and the only thing that made him feel better was his father protecting him.

I think what the author may be telling us– or what I take from it is that some people cannot be changed unless they’re willing. And if they aren’t let them go before they hurt you. That unless you’re willing to be open to love and want to communicate to make it work,

I often feel like I need to read these to even out the happily ever after that I have come to expect–my spoonful of castor oil to mitigate the sweets I eat. This one is better than most I’ve read. Thanks!

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