Sunday, July 1, 2012
So Long, See You Tomorrow
So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell is a telescopic look into a tragedy that claimed the lives of two neighboring farmers. Fifty years after the incident a townie, connected to the deaths through his friendship with the killer's son, reflects on the events that unfolded to culminate in murder and the families' fragmentation.
There was little doubt who shot Lloyd Wilson in the early dawn, while he milked his cow by lantern light. Lloyd's wife had recently requested a legal separation and moved into town with her four children. Fern Smith, the wife of Lloyd's closest neighbor Clarence, sued for divorce citing Clarence's repeated cruelty but omitting her affair with Lloyd. Clarence countered-sued and the resulting court case aired intimacies and humiliations that drove Clarence off the farm and into depression and seclusion - broken only by the deadly retort that rang through the quiet morning.
Maxwell's atmospheric writing captures the time and place and images jump like photographs off of the page. This classic, compact tale (originally published in The New Yorker) won the National Book Award in 1982 and was described by reviewers as a "dark treasure". I think you'll agree.