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Sundown, Yellow Moon

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Forty years after the suicide of his best friend’s father, a writer revisits the tragedy and tries to unravel the mystery behind one man’s inexplicable actions on that icy January day in 1961. Through his own recollections and his fiction–sometimes impossible to separate–he attempts to make sense of a senseless act and, in the process, to examine his youth, his connection ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published September 11th 2007)
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(showing 1-30)
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I liked this book. I liked the tone and the anti-plot development. It was a character piece in which none of the characters change very much (sort of reiterating that character is permanent). And, in all fairness, Watson alerts the reader in the beginning that it is less a book with a plot and instead, about the why: "in spite of the popularity of mystery novels, is who the question we really want answered? Isn't why what we truly want to know?" Yes, I would agree that even in the most plot-ridd ...more
Brian Jackson
Feb 09, 2017 Brian Jackson rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
I liked the book. I thought the double narrative--the narrator's recollections mixed with his short stories based on the people and events of his past--was a unique way to present the story. I can understand the complaint that some have expressed that the central question in the narrative isn't fully resolved; I didn't see it as a detriment. I felt this was more true to the nature of life and to the nature of memory itself. We can't (or don't wish) to understand everything, so we inevitably fill ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fans of Larry Watson's Bentrock, Montana, stories may either be disappointed by this new novel or welcome it as an intriguing postmodern venture into the subjects of jealousy and obsession. The narrator, like the author, is a North Dakota-born writer, looking back on his coming of age in the early 1960s. A murder-suicide in the opening pages (like the double-fatality at the start of "White Crosses") sets in motion a chain of events that compromises nearly everyone it touches.

Meanwhile, unable to
Oct 13, 2016 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interestingly, I found this book to be like another. of Watson's books, The Orchard. Not sure which was written first but this one seems more adolescent than The Orchard. That could signify that it was written earlier or it could merely demonstrate just how good he is at getting inside his protagonists. Either way, this one seems like an adolescent look at the occurrence of a man killing a state senator and then himself without making clear his motive. Yet the book is just as much about two boys ...more
Nov 14, 2007 mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: relationship curios
This story centers around a murder/suicide; but that is incidental to what the author is getting at. He wants to understand human relationships & why people do what they do. He comes up short in that; but uses an intersting technique in the process. Sundown, Yellow Moon is a sad story. There's no humor in it. None. The characters aren't likable save one, Marie, the protagonist's (the protagonist is a fiction writer who looks back on his life, via short stories he writes interwined with his r ...more
Chi Dubinski
May 24, 2012 Chi Dubinski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two sixteen year old boys, the narrator and Gene Stoddard, return from school to find that Gene’s father, Ray, shot local politician Monty Burnham and then hung himself in the family garage. The story is told through various possible scenarios, diary entries of the narrator who imagines possibilities of why it happened. Did Stoddard pull the trigger to cover up a scandal in the government? Because of something that happened during World War II? Over the fact that his father was cheated out of so ...more
May 14, 2010 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, this was a good book, or at least, well-intentioned. However, one should only read this book if he or she is interested in the psychology of characters, a deep and almost clinical psycho-emotional introspection. Personally, I don't mind this type of book, but what I would advise all of you is that if you're looking for a solid, well-developed story line, you will not truly find that here. In fact, it was never Larry Watson's intention to provide one. Instead, he sought to clearly portra ...more
Dec 28, 2007 Diane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Diane by: Good reviews; heard author speak
I've tried, I've really tried to find in Larry Watson's books the elements that other reviewers rave about. After hearing Watson speak about this book, I was full of hope and gave it another try.

For me, Sundown Yellow Moon was a disjointed story filled with a self-pitying or incomplete characters. If the story was to show the quest for answers and the complexity of relationships, there were too many unfinished threads - for example, why the narrator's father took the path he did -and the relat
Joe Stack
Sep 25, 2014 Joe Stack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written story of how a crime that has unknown reasons impacts the people who know the people involved, as examined by a friend of the son of the father who sets everything in motion. This is an exploration of how events take on a life their own, and the power of seeking explanations to the unknown.
Nov 02, 2008 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the style of this book. The author poses several solutions to the problem/conflict in the novel. That approach was fantastic. Aren't there things that we can't explain and that we wonder about for years? Sometimes, we just have to come to peace with them, even unsettled.
May 06, 2008 Jenifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
hardly an exceptional effort, but not the worst thing i've read. i'm not sure how i feel about the gimmick he employs, which was mentioned in other reviews. at times, it does come off a bit precious. but it IS different.
Jan 25, 2009 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Barbara Keefe, Joan, Kathy, Sharon, Sara, Kim
Good coming of age story - two good friends - one suffers a terrible trauma. The other friend spends much of his life dealing with his friend's loss, the reason for it, etc. Good look at male friendships.
Jun 21, 2013 Amy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of Larry Watson's books that I haven't liked. I didn't like the fiction within fiction bits. The presupposition really turned me off. It is an interesting look at trying to piece things together, but this was a bit of a stretch for me.
Aug 07, 2008 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book for the way it refuses to resolve or reveal itself plot-wise, but I didn't particularly care for the main character or some of the literary tricks he used in writing it.

I found Orchard to be a better story and better execution.
Apr 10, 2013 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spring-2013
Good book. Enjoyed reading fiction set in the Dakotas. While this is set in North it made me reminiscent for South Dakota.
Guy Salvidge
Drab, dull and tedious. I've read four of Watson's novels now, enjoying Montana 1948 and Orchard, but not enjoying In a Dark Time or this one. Sadly this is literary fiction at its slow-moving worst.
Sep 05, 2008 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I wish I could have had the patience to finish this. It's well written but it doesn't GO ANYWHERE. Finally I gave up, life is too short.
Maureen Alden
Dec 26, 2008 Maureen Alden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No idea where this title came from...if you know, please let me know!
Thomas Cannon
Dec 09, 2012 Thomas Cannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
tackles large themes with life's small details
Another great tale by a terrific midwest story teller.
Kim DeNero
Nov 06, 2007 Kim DeNero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Larry Watson is the rare author who just gets better with each book. His writing seems effortless and I couldn't put this book down. His characters and sense of place are spot on.
Aug 24, 2009 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is good until the end when it falls apart. The time line for most os the book is 1-2 years, then it speeds up and it feels jarring.
Readfrk Axland
Mar 06, 2010 Readfrk Axland added it
Shelves: donated
Donated paperback version. Read in on Kindle, so I have that version also.
Kristin Bonacci
Jul 29, 2014 Kristin Bonacci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great characters, everyone is flawed. I can relate. I read this too fast to 5 star it, but I am sad it's over. I love Larry Watson and his characters.
Apr 18, 2014 Rhonda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love is complicated. For the Young.
Patricia Eichenlaub
Pretty good book but it just ran out of stuff at the end.
Beth Shields-Szostak
Jun 22, 2010 Beth Shields-Szostak marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: signed
1st edition, signed & inscribed by author
Austin rated it liked it
Mar 15, 2012
Sandy S.
Sandy S. rated it it was ok
Aug 15, 2012
Suzanne rated it liked it
Jun 15, 2011
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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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