Paul's Reviews > The New Valley: Novellas

The New Valley by Josh Weil
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's review
Mar 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009
Read in June, 2009

Of the three novellas that comprise The New Valley, the third is the longest and the best; the first is the shortest and the weakest. In fact, I'd argue that this first novella, Ridge Weather, is not even a novella but really just a long story. Weil introduces a few supporting characters along the way, but the shift in perspective is too much for such a short piece, and when those characters never factor in again it makes their appearance seem like an obligatory tactic to reveal something about the main character and to give the piece breadth. Anyway, the second novella is longer, bigger, and better than the first; it, like "Brokeback Mountain," takes place over many years (though you wouldn't know it here) during which an old man restores an old tractor in his basement. The final novella, Saverville Remains, though, is by far the most rewarding read. Built of ostensible letters to an imprisoned man by a slow-witted thirtysomething (recalling Amy Hempel's "Tumble Home"), it has a unique voice and pathos that the other two novellas, though strong, lack. The dimwitted manchild narrator is nothing new, and it seems every author since Faulkner who utilizes him imparts on him savant-like qualities such as an unrealistic memory for dialogue, explaining his ability to quote long conversations verbatim and allowing the epistolary narrative to go beyond the scope of a series of normal letters. Still, it works here, and this novella alone makes The New Valley worth reading.
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