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3.32  ·  Rating details ·  534 ratings  ·  125 reviews
In the woods outside the town of Willnot, the remains of several people have suddenly been discovered, unnerving the community and unsettling Hale, the town's all-purpose general practitioner, surgeon, and town conscience. At the same time, Bobby Lowndes--his military records disappeared, being followed by the FBI--mysteriously reappears in his hometown, at Hale's door. Ov ...more
Hardcover, 178 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Bloomsbury USA
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Average rating 3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  534 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: south-the, favorites
James Sallis is the author of more than two dozen volumes of fiction, poetry, translation, essays, and criticism. He also is the author of Willnot, released in June of this year. Willnot is my favorite book of 2016 and I recommend it to all readers of well-written -- not grandiose -- literary fiction.

Willnot is not (primarily) a mystery or suspense novel. Forget that silly and distracting GR blurb, taken from the silly and distracting (and spoiler revealing, in one instance) dust jacket blurb.

Diane S ☔
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
4+ Sallis has the enviable knack of creating characters that are very hard to forget and Dr. Lamar Lamar Hale now joins this prestigious group. A man who administers daily to the citizens of Willnot and goes home to his partner, Richard, a school teacher who during the time period of this novel, will become acting principal. Their cat, Dickens, is an important character in his own right. Sallis is an observer of the human condition and that is what he does in this novel. When bodies are found, h ...more
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
James Sallis’s new book “Willnot” starts with a great bang, a bewildering mass grave is found near town that must be excavated. It’s impossible to tell just how many bodies have been found, who they were, and how they got there. Dr. Lamar Hale, the town's all purpose general practitioner, surgeon, becomes the point of view character of this novel.

We see small town rural life through Dr. Hale’s eyes. We learn of his interactions with many of the town’s residents, and we also learn of his personal
Diane Barnes
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Let me start with a warning: This is NOT a crime novel, this is NOT a mystery novel, and if that's what you want or expect, then you're sure to be disappointed.

Now that that's out of the way, let me tell you what it is. There are mysteries here, but most of them are the unsolvable ones of the human heart, and of life itself. What is Willnot, and how did it get it's name? We're never told. Where is Willnot? We're never told. Is it even a real place? Decide that one for yourself. The people there
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
After reading this book, I want to rush out and get me a thriller, some magic, a real mystery- anything with verve. Because this just laid down and simpered philosophy at the same time. Absolutely not my cuppa.

It rambles. And it is odd. If you like odd, you might like it. Odd both in tone and in its continuity. There were pages I had to reread. Conversations between characters just introduced or added in asides? I feel I got to know Dickens, the cat, better than the "wise" protagonists of the st
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Willnot – Classic Sallis

James Sallis has once again written a classic, and to my mind one his best, Willnot will be as popular as all his other novels and stories. Not quite a literary crime novel more the story of a middle aged doctor, in small town America, who is trying to come to terms with his own mortality.

Willnot is a small town that is full of eccentrics who are aware that they are just ‘visiting’ and that life goes on. Dr Lamar Hale is the local doctor, knows everyone’s aches and pains.
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the blurb, I was expecting the usual cop drama. What a pleasant surprise to find a gentler story with much character development instead. I simply sat and read from beginning to end without stopping. I suspect I will read it again in a year and find nuances that I missed on the first read.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sallis is one of the greats. No question. He doesn't do genre tropes and as a result Willnot is totally unique. You think it's going to be a crime thriller, whatever that means, some kind of small-town, back-woods deal where harmless lil' Tootsie the waitress turns out to be a stabby psycho because of that thing that happened all those years ago. But what is it? It feels new. It is warm, sweet, quietly profound without being pretentious, mysterious without resorting to mystery cliches, and it is ...more
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
A character driven story of great intensity. Sallis's voice is so smooth and powerful that you cannot look away. It really hits you between the eyes with a barrage of empathy, melancholy, joy, longing, and every other rich experience we are capable of. Loved it. ...more
Kathy Martin
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dr. Lamar Hale is a general practitioner and surgeon in the small town of Willnot - home to a variety of eccentrics. Lamar knows all the secrets and accepts everyone for who they are. When a gravesite containing a number of remains is discovered, the town and Lamar are unnerved. The return of Bobbly Lowndes from the Marines also is unsettling. Lamar has known him since he was a child. Then the FBI comes looking for Bobby.

While all these things are happening, Lamar goes about his daily business t
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The best book I've read this year, from one of the best American writers. Subtle and beautiful writing, very real characters you understand (and like) after just a few pages, a well drawn setting... Perfect! ...more
I started this book knowing nothing about it. I was trying to listen to the audio, but eventually had to pull out the written book and reread parts at several times during the audio just to keep straight what was happening. The conclusion is: nothing
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I predict you will either love this one or go "Say what?" ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Life goes on, with or without having a point.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, lit-fic
The thing about ratings on this site is I often feel less antipathy towards a one-star book than towards a two-star. With a few exceptions (Catcher in the Rye is bad and should feel bad) most of my one-stars were books I didn't bother to finish, boring or confusing, in a couple instances objectively important works that I was never going to be able to properly appreciate, myself (Only Revolutions, for one). When you drop a boring book halfway through you throw up the one star, sell the book for ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read about fifty pages before I had any idea of what was going on here - nothing made sense and I had no idea who anyone was or what their relationships were to each other. After that I kinda got it together and more or less followed what was happening - but it's the strangest paced novel I've read in a while - nothing is explained or resolved, and there is barely a plot. The main character is a doctor, so there's just lots about his day to day life, his partner who is a teacher and the ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Willnot by James Sallis 5+/5

It's been awhile since I've read any of Sallis's books. /sigh/ Silly me. There is a wonderful, mellow flow to his writing that, in a way, reminds me of Nabokov. Yes, but no. Sallis has a dead-center way of looking at life, and describing it in an off hand manner whose profundity just suddenly pops you in the back of the head. The reader is forced to go back and reread the last page or two just for the immediate pleasure of reliving those thoughts.

The plot is deceptiv
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have been a fan of James Sallis since I found his Lew Griffin series. I was thrilled to find a new book by him. This one is a dandy. It is set in a small town called Willnot - filled with misfits, transits, oddities, etc. Characters abound. It is also sprinkled with many bon mots along the way.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written with vivid and intriguing characters, Willnot is a look at the variety and intricacies of life through the eyes of a rural doctor. With musings on mortality, military service, finding your place in the world and much more this book, despite it's small size is thought provoking and impacting. ...more
Selen Isyar
The book may be good; an easy reading with many details and people all in a small town.
However the book was so poorly translated that it is a shame on the publisher's part.
I will send them an email with examples however it is a loss on business for them for such a productive writer is wasted.
Carol Wilson
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am writing this after receiving a copy of Willnot from RealReaders in return for an honest review.
I previously read ‘Drive’ by this author and really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about; not for me, James Sallis, I thought. How wrong.

Willnot is a very short book, described as a Mystery, or a Crime, story; for me, it is both and yet neither, it defies categorisation. In truth, it is simply the musings of an elderly American small-town doctor as he goes about his daily life.

The story start
Paul Bk
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Willnot by James Sallis
New to Sallis? No better place to start than 'Willnot', his latest literary crime novel. Difficult to categorise because it is a rich and complex study of middle America town life in the modern world and a noir thriller with a slow creeping burn.
'Willnot' town doctor Lamar Hale narrates and the story opens with the uncovering of a burial pit in the woods outside town - the remains of several dead bodies. Apparent stranger Brandon 'Bobby' Lowndes turns up in Hale's office a
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was quite intrigued when I was sent another James Sallis book to review as I'm still rather in two minds about the last one! What can I say about this book? What did I honestly think?
Well firstly I really couldn't get to grips with how the book was written. It's quite loose and rambling in style and I found that at times, in fact quite often, I really had to think about what had just happened or what had been said, or even re-read a section to actually get a handle on it! It's not really a cri
John Mccormick
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Once again Real Readers have provided another book by yet another new author for me to read and review.
Yes I am ashamed to admit never having previously read a James Sallis book.
The Willnot of the title is a small backwoods, slightly gone to seed American town, where our hero and main character is General Practitioner, Surgeon, counsellor, confident and collector of all types of waifs and strays.
It’s impossible not too like, no love the main character, every small town should have this kind of D
Marc Rokoff
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
The truth is, I am only giving this book three and a half stars but I rounded up because the writing is so wonderful and the characters feel so real. The prose is crisp, even daring to the point of experimental at times. Like a really spicy meal, I both loved that quality and felt irritated by it!

Ultimately, Willnot lost half a star because the ending didn't have much of a payoff for me. It loses another star for metaphors and dialogue that I could not follow. I didn't understand whole paragraph
Guy Salvidge
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've noticed before this that poets, if and when they turn their attention to writing novels, often do an extremely good job. Take James Dickey's Deliverance, for example. If I was going to criticise this novel at all (and I'm not) it would be in saying that the plot is meandering. But, then, life is meandering too. Sallis writes as well as I can envision anyone doing and with the economy of a poet. His slim novel is the equal and better of many three times the length. He gets bonus points for m ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have no idea what this book was about, but I loved it. How's that for a review?

Seriously, many things happen and few of them are resolved. Meanwhile, you're falling in love with the characters, who seem like real people, and the writing, which speaks to your emotions.

I began to read this short novel as a break from The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. More than halfway through its almost 600 pages, I was drowning in detail and overwrought emotion. This is its complete opposite and by far the s
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really like this author. Writes quality books in a really understated enjoyable way. Full of perceptive observations about the human condition. This book is promoted by his publisher as an example of Sallis's thriller/crime output. Not a good description - is more an essay describing life in rural America with great characterisation and insight.
The publisher also throughs in a MAJOR spoiler for anyone who reads the synopsis on the back of the book. Not good!
Read Sallis's - you will not be dis
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Falsely advertised as a mystery but that's ok. This is a tiny (under 200 pages) gem of novel. Beautifully done an probably unforgettable. I had never heard of Sallis before but that will be corrected immediately. ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Dr. Lamar Hale's daily life as a town doctor, and his friends and co-workers tell an interesting story. Spare, beautiful writing. ...more
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James Sallis (born 21 December 1944 in Helena, Arkansas) is an American crime writer, poet and musician, best known for his series of novels featuring the character Lew Griffin and set in New Orleans, and for his 2005 novel Drive, which was adapted into a 2011 film of the same name.

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