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As Good as Gone

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,614 ratings  ·  282 reviews
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
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Algonquin Books
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  1,614 ratings  ·  282 reviews

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Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grgiveaways
”It’s been a long time since anyone expected me to think or know much of anything. I’ve drawn wages for most of my years for simple doing.”

“And do you think your son asked you to come here to do something?”

“If need be.” He flicks away his cigarette, and together they watch its sparks pinwheel down the drive. “If need be.”

it’s 1963 in the small town of gladstone, montana.

when his wife requires a surgery local doctors are not equipped to perform, bill sidey asks a rare favor of his estranged fathe
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book, great writer! A gritty, rather raw story about an old guy, Calvin Sidey. A loner, a tough guy, a grandfather, who has his own ways to protect his estranged family, when asked to look after the two grandkids due to an operation of the wife of his son. He leaves his trailer in the wilderness to live in the house of his son temporarily, the town he used to live too. As good as gone... The writing is clean and to the point. Great story, easy to read, keeps you going and going... Already ...more
James Thane
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is another excellent novel from Larry Watson, the author of Montana 1948. Set in 1963, in the fictional town of Gladstone, Montana, it's a beautifully written story of family, values, and small town life at the middle of the Twentieth Century.

At the center of the book is Calvin Sidey, who was once one of the town's leading citizens. But when tragedy struck, he abandoned the town and his family to live alone out on the prairie, working for the rest of his life as an itinerant cowboy. He live
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
1963 Gladstone, Montana. This is a story illustrating the differences between a father and his son, and the sameness.

Calvin Sidey is one tough customer. Tall and formidable looking, hard to please. He rolls his own cigarettes, has a distinct idea of what can be tolerated and what cannot. His notion of authors is that they are scribblers. He is a reader, though, books in Latin are his choice. He's getting on in years, but still hires out as a cowboy on occasion, digging post holes, repairing fen
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
It’s the summer of 1963 in Montana as this family saga unfolds its riches. The writing is spare yet lyrical, and the dialogue exquisitely characterizes each person in the story.

Bill’s wife Marjorie requires surgery that means a trip to a city 400 miles away and although their 17 year old daughter Ann is quite capable of taking care of herself and her 11 year old brother Will, she has a summer job that is important to her. Her parents don’t want to leave Will alone for so long, so Bill reaches ou
Diane S ☔
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it
When I first started reading this, the plot reminded me of the movie, Uncle Buck. When Bill and his wife need to travel so she can get an operation, they ask Bill's estranged father, Calvin, to come and stay in the house and keep an eye on their two children, his grandchildren. But here the similarity ends, because while the movie I mentioned was funny, there is nothing amusing in this novel. There is instead a series of problems, both children are being pressured by supposed friends, in Anna's ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In the summer of 1963, a wife and mother, Marjorie, in Montana makes a decision to have surgery which requires a lengthy drive to the city where her sister lives, believing she will be in better hands since her sister has had the same surgery. Marjorie’s husband, Bill, drives out to the middle of an area where his father now lives in a trailer of sorts, devoid of any comforts. He wants his father, who abandoned him as a child, to come and watch over their two children while they are away.

Many ru
Aug 03, 2019 added it
Shelves: fiction
The Hook A Staff Pick and personal recommendation from Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore

The Line - ”A hawk with prey in sight could not watch more intently”.

The Sinker - It's been years since I've read anything by Larry Watson. Back in my library career days Milkweed Editions caught my attention when I read Watson's Montana 1948. Montana, published in 1993 has remained an all-time favorite of mine. So how is it that other Milkweed titles ended up on my shelves but I never read another of Watson
“No matter how long they’ve been there, the people who live out here believe that whatever life demands of them they can meet it on their own.”


As Good as Gone is not as good as it could have been nor as good as I hoped. That is not to say that I disliked the book, but that I have high expectations – perhaps unreasonably high – for Larry Watson novels, and this one did not meet my expectations.

It does share many of the good things that characterize his previous novels. For one thing, there i
Jul 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Ernest Hemingway famously said, “Write the truest sentence you know,” and had he been around today, he might have been addressing this advice to Larry Watson. I’ve had the pleasure of reading nearly all of Mr. Watson’s books -- Montana 1948 is near perfection and his last book, Let Him Go, touched my heart – and his prose is always authentic, insightful, and graceful.

Yet in this, his newest book, Larry Watson asks us to buy into a premise: Bill Sidey -- the middle-aged son of Calvin Sidey, a rec
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Larry Watson’s writing a great deal. In As Good as Gone he clearly exhibits a “show me” rather than “tell me” style of characterization and atmosphere, and has ensured that I will be reading more of his work. Straight shooter, this one.

The story started out strong but ended up going in a direction I just couldn't follow. The end felt like a brick wall to me, where any progress that could have been made was suddenly lost. I’m not a reader who requires a happy ending by any means, but I
Mark Bremmer
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really pulls together family multi-generations together. Makes grandfather valuable again after he abandoned family when his wife died.
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarything
Calvin Sidey is an old cowboy who abandoned his two children when his wife, Pauline, died. He’s living out in an old trailer, estranged from almost everyone who knew him. His son, Bill, asks him come to his house for a week or so to keep an eye on the kids while Bill’s wife, Marjorie, has surgery. What follows is quite an eventful visit from Grandpa. His 17-year-old granddaughter, Ann, is receiving unwanted attention from an old boyfriend and his 11-year-old grandson, Will, is trying to avoid a ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
“As Good as Gone” is another brilliant novel from Larry Watson. Watson has an incredible ability to bring fictional characters to life in such a way that you feel you would recognize them if you saw them having coffee in a diner or working in a clothing store. In this story of three generations of Montana men and women, he highlights each character’s ability (or lack thereof) to adapt to changing values and societal norms. Grandfather Calvin Sidey lives the “cowboy way” with his own rigid code o ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought about going back to this, but found I wasn't halfway through, but less than 25% of the way (on 9 of 38). I have many other far more interesting books to listen to & I seem to be in a nonfiction mood. Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History was great & now I have Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science.

This wasn't awful, just way too slow for me. I really don't want to explore characters & their motivations in such detail. The writing was good, just too descriptive. N
JoAnne Pulcino
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another exceedingly beautiful novel by a master of sparse prose that is both poignant and realistic.
As Good as Gone features a senior grandfather that is a throwback to the days of yore where threats were handled man to man and no holds barred. The family he deserted has ask him for help and begins the tale of how he lacks the polish and reserve when one of his own feels threatened or undermined.
Fantastic characters depicted in the authors stirring voice and his lovely descriptions of his belo
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Calvin is an old cowboy who lives in a beaten down trailer in the plains of Montana in the 1960s. He avoids other people including the family that he abandoned years before after his wife died. As the story begins, his son Bill has come to ask him to stay with his two grandchildren while Bill takes his wife to another town for surgery. Surprisingly, Calvin agrees and he returns to the town that he grew up in to watch over his 17 year old granddaughter and 11 year old grandson. Calvin is a man of ...more
Fred Forbes
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I think the depressing thing to me about this story is that I am approaching Granpa's age but he seems to be living in a prior century! Something about the moronic, in your face, violence solves problems approach he uses that left me cold. Frankly, no one in the family seems to think things through regardless of age. Well written, good characterization, just a group that is far too reactive for my taste. ...more
Kathie Giorgio
Aug 20, 2016 rated it liked it
So here's the thing. This book was absolutely roaring toward a five-star rating, and then it guttered to a three. Why?

Well, first the good parts. What great characters. And there was a super plot. I fell right into this book from page one and just wanted to remain curled up in my chair until it was done (life intervened, of course). The descriptions were lush and lovely. The pacing was perfect. A few things twitched me, but they weren't enough to stop my enjoyment. I wondered, for example, why t
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Watson is indeed a very talented author. His Let Him Go was one of my favorites the year it was published so I was super stoked to see he had a new book out. My bottom line with this book is this: the skill of the writing was stellar but I didn't really enjoy the story much. I was fully halfway through before I was invested enough in the characters to commit to finishing. This is not necessarily a book I would recommend, but I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it either. ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wanted to try this author's writing so I went with this more recent book although I know his book Let Him Go is being made into a movie this year. That means a longer "hold" at the library.
This is certainly a very different kind of hero portrayed in a cadence of what I can recall of westerns. Stubborn old coot moves into town to keep watch over his grandchildren while their parents are out of town for specialized surgery on the mother. He does what he can to make things right for his teenage gra
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting story. I enjoyed reading it but I am not sure that I understood it all. Maybe...
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kid-young-adult
I have liked Watson's books in the past and I was rather disappointed by this one. It felt like he was losing his edge. The book was cute and the story was okay, although rather lame and hard to believe at times (Ann is really not that stupid that she would plunge into the dark rather than face an ex boyfriend in a crowd; he can't force her to leave with him if her other friends are around). It is also filled with language like: "To hear the water rushing inside and outside him is more than disc ...more
Mr. Gottshalk
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Before I read the reviews on the back cover, I swear that I thought if this book ever became a movie, Clint Eastwood would have to play the protagonist, Calvin Sidey. The complicated, reclusive old man is called to town by his son who asks that he watches his two grandkids while son Bill's wife has an operation. Whatever can go wrong does go wrong. I guess one of the themes is that we have to listen to people to really hear their stories, and not react impulsively. An interesting read, but I exp ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This was my first book by Larry Watson and, while it was not quite as good as I expected, I'm sure I will read more of his novels.

In 1960's Montana, Calvin Sidey is a dyed in the wool old cowboy, who lives by his own code. When his son asks him to come home for two weeks to watch his two grandchildren while the son and his wife are out of town for the wife to have an operation, he grudgingly agrees.

To add to the fact that the children, Anne,17 and Will, 11, hardly know their grandfather, they
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Calvin Sidey is a cowboy relic. He is seventy years old, stuck in an “Old West” mythical code. Since he does not fit in, with current society, he lives a hermit existence, entrenched in a tiny trailer, deep in the Montana woods. His adult son, wants a favor. Watch his teenage children, while his wife has surgery, in a distant city. Calvin reluctantly agrees. Will trouble follow? I think it is a safe bet...
Watson knows the modern west intimately. He also draws intricate characters, warts and all
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Excellent writing, enticing story, disappointing ending. 3.5 stars.
Karyn Niedert
RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2016

RATING: 5 Stars Blew off a three week tropical vacation with Vin Diesel to read this book-AND it was worth it!

GENRE: Western

AUDIENCE: Fans of William Kent Krueger, Malcolm Brooks, and James Lee Burke will definitely enjoy this novel

SERIES: Standalone

REVIEW: Rarely do I read a book at such a rapid pace as I did “As Good as Gone”. During the final chapters I had to send both my spouse and my son out of the room so I could enjoy the final few pages of one of the best book
Mary Lins
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
I’m on a Larry Watson adventure this corona-virus summer! “As Good as Gone” is my third Watson, and they just get better and better. Published in 2016, but set in 1963 Montana. Watson introduces us to the unforgettable archetypal loner Calvin Sidey, who has been asked by his son to take care of the grandchildren he doesn’t really know, for a week while his son takes Calvin’s daughter-in-law to get surgery.

It’s action-packed. AND it has one of the funniest “love scenes” I’ve ever read!
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, cindy-owns
Wonderful writing and was pulled into this story in a “show me, not tell me” kind of way. But I never really felt connected to the characters (- a star), plus the ending was definitely disappointing (- a star). But I will read more of Larry Watson in the future.
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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

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