TK421's Reviews > Go with Me

Go with Me by Castle Freeman Jr.
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Apr 03, 13

bookshelves: literary
Read from February 19 to 23, 2011

I very seldom go into a book blindly. What that means is I try to do my homework before reading anything. I like to know who the author is; check to see if there is anything else in their oeuvre that has made any buzz, things like that. For the most part, I think I’ve been able to find some truly great gems this way, not to mention the good fortune of staying away from stinkers. (TWILIGHT I am still miffed at how you duped me.)

Anyway, I was in my favorite used bookstore the other day perusing the shelves when GO WITH ME caught my eye. I was instantly attracted to its cover: blood red images of an old barn and walkway with thick overgrowth on all sides. I looked to see who the author was: Castle Freeman, Jr. Never heard of him. It’s probably a pseudonym, I thought. So I started flipping through the pages. It was sparsely written; short chapters. Then I looked at the cover some more and in the lower left-hand corner, Charles Bock compared this book to the works of Cormac McCarthy and urged Richard Price to read this book. Intereeeeesttttiiiinnnnggg.

I flipped to the front pages to see what other reviewers said about the book: wry, primal, epic, impossible to put down, taut, filled with corny irony and shrewd wisdom, an elegant little thriller, a masterpiece of black comedy. And then I came across what the Kirkus Reviews had to say about the book: “If all novels were this good, Americans would read more.” That was it; I bought the novel.

When I started reading it, the blurb was right: I didn’t want to put it down. The story held me captive, not like an invited guest; rather, I was its hostage. Every word and sentence and paragraph soon reshaped itself and the concept of reading this book vanished…it was like I had heard these stories before, from some old-timer on a park bench as he spit black tobacco from a toothless mouth.

The story itself is quite simple: a woman (Lillian) is wronged by a bad dude (Blackway); the sheriff won’t help her, she’s on her own; enter the two most unlikely candidates for the job, Les and Nate the Great. The three of them embark on a journey across locales of Vermont that could be anywhere: an out-of-the-way hotel where indiscretions of the flesh are a norm; a bar meant not for joviality but to render one drunk enough to forgot about the meaningless life they live; an abandoned logging camp that now only has a lone school bus as the only surviving structure. The villain, Blackway is more than just a villain; he is “what organized crime would be, if organized crime was in the area.”

And then there are the added bonuses of the novel: a Shakespearean chorus of old men that contemplate life and the future of their small town, who add comedic moments in this dark and bleak tale; the setting itself: a thick and green world of tress and wild grasses that have never allowed men to tame it; there are conspiracies of life, ghosts, and the true reasons as to why the sheriff would not help poor Lillian. There are underlying messages of chivalry and courage; and there is the contemplation of time and what it can do to an area. There is the concept of change, and if change is even possible.

Ultimately, this is the type of story one searches for and is only lucky to find once in a great while. I will definitely be searching for more of Castle Freeman’s books.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Best line in book: “Gun’s only good when it’s the only gun.”
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Reading Progress

02/23/2011 page 192
100.0%

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Jack (new)

Jack Wow! Okay it's on my list now.


TK421 Jack wrote: "Wow! Okay it's on my list now."

You won't be disappointed.


message 3: by Cassy (new)

Cassy I love the story of how you decided to take a chance on this one. I kind of miss the days of walking into a bookstore without an agenda. When I do pick blind, I look for a blurb from NPR. That normally convinces me.


message 4: by Trudi (new)

Trudi Great review! You've convinced me :)


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways And then there are the added bonuses of the novel: a Shakespearean chorus of old men that contemplate life and the future of their small town, who add comedic moments in this dark and bleak tale; the setting itself: a thick and green world of tress and wild grasses that have never allowed men to tame it; there are conspiracies of life, ghosts, and the true reasons as to why the sheriff would not help poor Lillian.

Sold! Terrific review.


Nandakishore Varma Great review. I've added it to my to-read pile.


message 7: by TK421 (last edited Jan 27, 2012 09:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

TK421 Richard and Nandakishore: This is one to rush out and get. I am still excitedly waiting for another Freeman novel to pass through the used bookstore I haunt. The best way to compare Freeman's writing is by thinking: Freeman is the Daniel Woodrell of Vermont.


message 8: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark you've sold it to me. Thanks for such enthusiasm. Lovely to catch a little of it in your reviews


message 9: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy Rossman another, another, another great review. I will read it.


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