Go With Me by Castle Freeman

Lillian is fed up. Whatever her boyfriend Kevin, now ex-boyfriend, was mixed up in has gotten way out of hand. Even worse, he's fled the small Vermont town leaving her to fend for herself. The guy who he wronged, Blackway, has now turned his attention to her. It started as simple threats, but quickly escalated, leaving her car wrecked, cat killed, and her emotions at a head. When the local police can't find any way to legally assist her, she decides to hunker down and put an end to this by herself.

At the suggestion of the sheriff, she seeks the assistance of a local man who had his own run in with Blackway years ago. Blackway carries a reputation of being someone you don't want to get involved with. Most in the town seem to accept this as a fact and steer clear of any mention of him. When she goes to the old mill to try to find help, she is met instead by a group of old-timers who pass the time by drinking and swapping stories and gossip. The recommended helper is nowhere to be found, but at the insistence of Whizzer, the kind of leader of the group of men, she leaves accompanied by Lester, a man who has worked at the saw mill for most of his life, and Nate, the young guy who is just learning the ropes. With the help of these two men, Lillian seeks Blackway and attempts to put a stop to his violence.

This is a strange little story. There is no doubt that author Castle Freeman has a strong voice in his writing. At only 160 pages, however, there is little time for the characters to really develop. Instead, each character is given a kind of face value exterior with only subtle hints at deeper emotions or motivations. As the story alternates between the mismatched trio's search for Blackway and the group of old gossiping men, reminiscent of a Greek chorus, the story tends to lose some of its steam. With constant interruptions, the action kind of ends with no real bang, leaving me wondering if it was really worth my time to follow these characters in the first place. Part of me feels like this story had a lot of pottential and could have been fleshed out into someting great. The other part questions the intention of the author and his seemingly trivial story.

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(2013: week 16, book 14)

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