Montana 1948
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Montana 1948

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  4,706 ratings  ·  648 reviews
The events of that small-town summer forever alter David Hayden's view of his family: his self-effacing father, a sheriff who never wears his badge; his clear sighted mother; his uncle, a charming war hero and respected doctor; and the Hayden's lively, statuesque Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations are at the heart of the story. It is a tale of love...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Washington Square Press (first published 1993)
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Jun 27, 2014 sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those hoping to escape the burden of family or fate
Recommended to sckenda by: Richard Derus
"I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 20:5)

"The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son." (Ezekiel 18:20)

Does your father’s character predetermine your own? Can you escape the destiny that your family history has seemingly preordained? This story chronicles the struggle for a boy’s soul. From the distance of time, a 52-year-old man remembers the boy...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways

Milkweed Editions
$14.00 trade paper, available now

Rating: 5* of five Another one I'd give six stars to if I could.

The Publisher Says: The events of that small-town summer forever alter David Hayden's view of his family: his self-effacing father, a sheriff who never wears his badge; his clear sighted mother; his uncle, a charming war hero and respected doctor; and the Hayden's lively, statuesque Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations are at the heart of the story. It is a tale...more
May 26, 2013 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Michael by: Richard
This 1993 novella wonderfully captures a great sense of place of growing up in a small prairie town in Montana and the loss of innocence by a boy experiencing the events and consequences of a case of abuse within his own family.

From a point four decades later, David begins his account with this powerful foreshadowing: “From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting than any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fad...more

I find history endlessly amusing, knowing, as I do, that the record of any human community might omit stories of sexual abuse, murder, suicide ... Who knows – perhaps the region’s most dramatic, most sensational stories were not played out in the public view but were confined to small, private places. A doctor’s office, say. A white frame house on a quiet street.

David Hayden looks back from a middle age perspective at the events of the summer of his 12th year (“a series of images more vivid an...more
I started this book almost eight months ago; I also left this book mid-chapter almost eight months ago. I’m not really sure as to why I stopped reading this novel. Perhaps I saw where the story was going and could not get myself to go there with it; perhaps I just saw some shiny object and raced after it. Both scenarios are very plausible. Anyways, I decided to pick the book back up today and finished the last seventy or so pages that I previously abandoned. And let me say that I am so lucky to...more
This was a re-read of another title that I would call a perfect little book. Over the years I have recommended Montana, 1948 so many times to readers that I felt the need to go back and give it another read, just to make sure I still knew what I was talking about. I do. The novella is that perfect example of a suspenseful literary title, and the perfect prescription for literary readers grown bored with navel-gazing, and crime readers grown weary of the formulaic nature that even the best myster...more
I think the whole "coming of age" novel has been done to death, and so often is done badly. This slim book (more of a novella than a novel) is the exception to my rule. The story of a boy who discovers that his family is not exactly what he thought they were rings so true to me. The 'voice' is just right for a boy on the fine line between childhood and adolescence who is starting to search for the true meaning behind the things adults tell him - and the things they choose not to tell him. He sne...more
In my little life full of coincidences, I would never have believed it if someone told me I would unintentionally read two books in one month with plots based upon the rape of Native American women by white men and both set in the northern plains. (Not because I don't believe it, but because it's not exactly a common literary fiction topic.) "Round House" by Louise Erdrich was the first and now, this. Did Louise Erdrich use Montana 1948 (published 20 years earlier) as a springboard for the RH? W...more
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson. This is how it should be done. Clean simple writing and a good story well-told. There is no reason to pump up the volume simply for the sake of marketing a thicker book.

What it means to be a peace officer in Montana is 'knowing when to look and when to look away'. In a time tainted by underlying and sometimes overt racism, this tale is of the struggle between the ties that bind a family together and the moral code that begs for justice to be served.

Excellent work....more
Coming-of-age books have long captured the interest of readers, from contemporary classics like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird to Louise Erdrich’s excellent novel The Round House. In the very best of these stories, a young boy or girl is forced to witness the ugliness of society and then must move forward – suddenly older, wiser and sobered.

And so it is here with Montana 1948, an absolutely breathtaking and spare novel, with images so searing that the line between reality and ficti...more
Raymond Niccolo
I earlier read the novel Montana 1948 by Larry Watson. This novel was very appealing and a good page-turner. Larry Watson has also written the novels White Crosses, Orchard, and Justice. Montana 1948 was a bildungsroman about a 12 year old boy David Hayden whose family slowly becomes torn apart. The family is torn over the murder of a native american Marie Little Soldier and his Uncle Frank who is the possible murderer.
What intrigued me about the novel was how crisp the descriptions of each cha...more
I liked this, but didn't love it. Montana, 1948 is well-written, simple and direct. It seems more like a short story than a novel. If you're a fast reader, it'll be over before you know it. My favorite parts were the visual descriptions of a small Montana town sixty years ago. I've driven through Montana a few times and always been amazed by the combination of beauty and emptiness.

I wasn't as crazy about the plot. Montana is both a crime drama and an examination of the young protagonist's compl...more
Mar 02, 2011 Rita rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: liked
This was the first book that our Mothers of 10th Graders book club is reading. We are reading the same books that our kids are assigned at school and then we get together to discuss the books and drink wine while we do it.

I found it curious that we'd start with this book and not Maus, which the kids just finished and looked really discussion worthy.

But, Montana 1948 it was and so I read.

It's hard for me to review the book without keeping in the back of my mind that 16 year-olds will start readi...more
Cheryl S.
I've read this book before, and was once again struck by the chilling realization much of our history is not contained in the approved texts but held behind closed doors and spoken of only in whispers. It's difficult to learn from the past when the truth is shrouded by a comforting lie.

I couldn't put this down, I read most of it in a single sitting.
Another great American Western novel - I'm on a hot streak!
This short novel is spare and beautiful. I liked much about it, and though I didn't truly love it, it gave me a lot to reflect upon. A more modern version of the troublesome mentality of white settlers towards Native Americans. The difficulties of family, nepotism, and expectations in small communities. How our versions of reality don't always measure up to the very layered and complicated perspectives that make up the real world--especially when we are young.

Watson does a good job making his ch...more
Linda Lipko
Rarely can I say that a book leaves me speechless or searching to describe how much of an impact it registers. Montana 1948 is such a tale.

Not since reading To Kill a Mockingbird, has the written word resonated on this level.

Published in 1960, Harper Lee's incredible one-hit wonder marks its 50 year anniversary this summer. Recently Lee remarked to her 80 year old Monroeville, Alabama minister that there was no need to write another and stated that she wrote "a simple tale about the conflict of...more
So clearly, it is an award winning novel and I shouldn't be surprised to give it 5 stars. I also read American Boy a few years back and loved that, so definitely I am a Larry Watson fan. However, for some reason I had it in my head that this was a long cowboy western (kind of like McMurtry's Lonesome Dove) and so had kind of been avoiding it. It's not like that. This is a really great book. And it's also really short. So, I was wrong on a couple of counts.

The setting and rough plot (racist relat...more
Dec 06, 2012 Reid rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Larry Watson
Recommended to Reid by: Steve's review via S.Penk.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ruth Turner
I'm in the minority as far as liking this book is concerned. It didn't hold my interest and I skimmed the last 20 pages or so just to get it finished.
Will Bellais
Jan 08, 2008 Will Bellais rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All who love a good book
Shelves: fiction
Here is one of best books ever written about the far west of the U.S. I was so drawn into the story and people of the story I had to read it in one sitting. The geography of northeastern Montana becomes part of the lore and the tale that enflames the simple men of the north. Told from a teenage boy's point of view, we get a new moral insight and the tension between Native Americans and the ranchers of privlege.
This is a short novel about growing up in northeastern Montana. I'm not sure if it's considered a "young adult" novel (like To Kill a Mockingbird, which it somewhat resembles, it can be read by all ages from the early teens up), but it is often assigned as reading at the high school level, and in some cases has been challenged by parents and even banned by school authorities as being too adult for young readers. These complaints and bannings center around sex, which is at the heart of the family...more
Joyce Lagow
A very different coming-of-age story, told from the point of view of a 12 year old boy, David, in a small town in Montana, summer of the year 1948. The prologue is immediately gripping: a series of dramatic images from that summer, that beg for expansion, explanation.[return][return]David Hayden� s father, Wesley, is the sheriff in Bentrock, Montana, a position he was more or less forced to inherit from his domineering, controlling father. David� s mother, Gail, who is not from Montana, is a for...more
Bonnie Brody
Montana 1948 marks the second book by Larry Watson that will make my top ten list of books for 2014. I loved the characterizations, the story, the narrator, and the writing overall.

The story is narrated by 12 year-old David Hayden of Bentrock, Montana. He is part of THE Hayden family, his grandfather a powerful and rich rancher. His father, Wes, is a lawyer turned sheriff, and his mother, Gail, works at the courthouse. The family seems very happy and David is a precocious and inward boy, enjoyin...more
Apr 16, 2010 Kris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of western fiction, those who like coming of age stories
Recommended to Kris by: dad
OK, I admit, as a native Montanan, I'm a sucker for books about growing up and living there. (e.g. anything by Ivan Doig) But I hdan't heard of this author before – my sister stumbled across the book in the Goodwill store in Moscow, ID and brought it home for my dad to read, and then I borrowed it and read it.

It takes place in the fictional town of Bentrock, in the NE corner of Montana. Though the town is fictional, its people and their struggles, prejudices and relations are very real. The auth...more
Travis Fortney
MONTANA 1948 by Larry Watson is a hi-line novel, i.e., the word "Montana" in the title doesn't signify the Montana that most of us are familiar with. No mountains, no Ponderosa pines, and the trout streams are few and far between. The Missoula landscape of A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, the current Chicago CTA advertising campaign, and MFA-land for the lucky few, is far, far away from this place. The Hi-line is in the eastern part of the state--it's prairie country and in its way I think it's even mor...more
My Review: At the end of this novel there is a short afterword written by David Huddle, a National Fiction Prize Judge, that succinctly expresses all of the complex sentiment that I may have included in a personal review. For this piece, then, it seems appropriate to let Huddle do the talking:

“Part family memoir, part psychological drama, part historical adventure tale, part elegy to a place and a lost way of life, Montana 1948 is a story that I expect I’ll go on trying to tell family members,...more
This book is not for the faint-hearted! It's hard to say I had an enjoyable experience reading this masterfully written ironic tragedy, but I'd read it again. Told from the perspective of a middle aged man looking back on the events that marked his transition from boyhood into an adult perspective, the raw emotions starkly contrast the often childish and simple language employed in narration. Shocking turns of events lead the reader from the safety of a little boy's childhood toward the confusin...more
Aug 05, 2012 Stewart rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stewart by: richard
A very well done story that seems much larger than the couple of hours it took me to read. This story calls to mind The Thornbirds and We Were The Mulvaneys, and in a good way. Some events effect an entire family as much as the family members directly involved in a situation. While it would be nice to read about GOOD THINGS accomplishing this, it was still nice to read another sad story about a family changed forever by a moment.

This book adds another silly, melodramatic exclamation to my verna...more
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ENG 580 Spring 2014: Montana 1948 1 6 Feb 16, 2014 08:29AM  
Ironi in this book 1 11 Sep 10, 2013 10:52AM  
The Hazards of a First Person Retrospective POV 1 7 Feb 11, 2013 04:52AM  
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Larry Watson was born in 1947 in Rugby, North Dakota. He grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was educated in its public schools. Larry married his high school sweetheart, Susan Gibbons, in 1967. He received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota, his Ph.D. from the creative writing program at the University of Utah, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Ripon College. Watson...more
More about Larry Watson...
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