On an icy day in January 1961, in Bismarck, North Dakota, a sixteen-year-old boy walks home from high school with his best friend, Gene. The sudden sound of sirens startles and excites them, but they don’t have long to wonder what the sound could mean. Soon after seeing police cars parked on their street, the boys learn the shocking truth: hours before, Gene’s father, Raymond Stoddard, walked calmly and purposefully into the state capitol and shot to death a charismatic state senator. Raymond then drove home and hanged himself in his garage.
The horrific murder and suicide leave the community reeling. Speculation about Raymond’s motives run rampant. Political scandal, workplace corruption, financial ruin, adultery, and jealousy are all cited as possible catalysts. But in the end, the truth behind the day’s events died with those two men. And for Gene and his friend, the tragedy is a turning point, both in their lives and in their friendship.
Nearly forty years later, Gene’s friend, a writer, revisits the tragedy and tries to unravel the mystery behind one man’s inexplicable actions. 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 friendship with Gene, and the love they both had for a beautiful girl named Marie.
Spare, haunting, lyrical, Sundown, Yellow Moon is a piercing study of love and betrayal, grief and desire, youth and remembrance. Using a brilliant, evocative fiction-within-fiction structure, Larry Watson not only brings to life a distinct period in history but, most affectingly, reveals the interplay of memory, secrets, and the passage of time.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Sundown, Yellow Moon|
|Release Date: 11-11-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Sundown, Yellow Moon
Although I have devoted much of my life to writing stories, they are all, I have come to realize, part of a single story that has shifted and swelled over time but never strayed far from my core. I will call its beginning the January day when I was sixteen years old and walking home from school with my best friend, Gene Stoddard. We heard sirens, but we couldn’t see where they were coming from. Their combined howl, however, was so close that we believed police cars or fire trucks, and an ambulance, had to be nearby. We ran toward the sound, hoping to catch a glimpse of the vehicles and perhaps discern their destination. When we came to the Will-Moore Elementary School playground, its new snow packed and rutted to bare ground in places from the boots of hundreds of children, we saw a police cruiser and an ambulance speeding up Fourth Street. Those were the last vehicles in the procession. It was obvious we’d get no closer to them and their mystery, so we stopped, our heaving, slowing breaths fogging the frigid air. Gene and I both lived a few blocks away on Keogh Street. (Our street was in a fairly new section of Bismarck, North Dakota, and the developer’s wife, a student of history, had arranged to have some of the street names in that part of town named for the officers—Keogh, Yates, Cooke, Reno—in Custer’s command when Custer and the Seventh Cavalry left Fort Abraham Lincoln, just west of Bismarck, on their ill-fated campaign that ended at Little Bighorn.) For all of our school years Gene and I had walked to and from school in each other’s company. Recently, however, that had begun to change. We had a couple friends with c