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Go with Me: A Novel Paperback – February 17, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like its young heroine, Lillian, Freeman's trim powerhouse is a pistol. The novelist and Old Farmer's Almanac essayist sets this story of grim purpose in a rural Vermont of logging, lumber mills and Lost Towns beyond the reach of the law. Threatened by the locally notorious villain Blackway, who has smashed her car window and killed her cat, Lillian turns to the sheriff. Unable to offer her legal protection, he sends her to a derelict sawmill where the wheelchair-bound Whizzer Boot holds court to a Greek chorus-like circle of beer-drinking locals. When Lillian refuses to leave town in the face of Blackway's threats, Whizzer assigns fearless young Nate and crafty old Lester to go with her to find him. Over the course of a single day, they venture deep into the sparsely inhabited territory and outlaw criminality of the Lost Towns. Knowing that as they get close they got to be ready to go all the way through, they meet menace and violence head-on. Nate's brawn, Lester's cunning and Lillian's stolid determination lead them to a late-night confrontation with Blackway that is as startling as it is inevitable. Freeman's beautifully cadenced dialogue is rich with humor, philosophic depth and a near-mythic sensibility. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy...Go With Me is at once wry, primal, epic and impossible to put down. I’m telling you the same thing I told the writer Richard Price: You must read this.” (Charles Bock, bestselling author of BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN, on NPR's "You Must Read This")

“[An] elegant little thriller about cunning versus cruelty . . . [a] pure delight, thanks to Freeman’s streamlined storytelling, dead-on dialogue, and lyrical descriptions of the bleak, woodsy landscape. This is a meticulous New England miniature, with not a wasted word.” (O magazine)

“This nimble thriller is the literary equivalent of a fierce bantamweight fighter: Short but muscular and lightning quick, it packs a surprising punch . . . Freeman has a flawless ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for quirky detail . . . Superb.” (People (Critic's Choice))

“What a spiffy little yarn, loose and funny and, at a few key junctures, righteously bloody...The book takes just a few hours to read--about the running time of the swell indie movie someone should make from this offbeat charmer.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Like its young heroine, Lillian, Freeman’s trim powerhouse is ‘a pistol.’ …Freeman’s beautifully cadenced dialogue is rich with humor, philosophic depth and a near-mythic sensibility.” (Publishers Weekly)

“GO WITH ME ambles along with that … mixture of corny irony and shrewd wisdom… These guys have a sweetness and slyness about them that’s affecting. ‘They don’t change,’ Freeman writes. ‘Time doesn’t pass for them.’ You could say the same for good storytelling like this.” (Washington Post)

“Castle Freeman Jr. packs more story into 160 pages than more famous authors could fit into twice as many...Go With Me is a dialogue-driven, take-the-law-into-your-own-hands story that is slick with humor and musings on pop culture, aging and American women.” (USA Today)

“This gem of a novel by Vermont author Freeman may bring him the larger audience he so richly deserves…Freeman turns this fablelike story into a surprisingly suspenseful showdown. And the artful cutaways to the old-timers’ priceless, extremely funny conversations add another level of richness to the tale.” (Booklist)

“There is a clear moral arc to this storyline, and suspense too. But GO WITH ME is also a literary novel, with echoes of “Deliverance” and Cormac McCarthy...Mr. Freeman adroitly captures the feel of played-out Vermont towns and people, and his dialogue has a terse, almost humorous, cadence.” (Wall Street Journal)

“A fast, memorable read gooey with atmosphere, Go With Me is a gem that sparkles with sly insight and cuts like a knife.” (Boston Globe)

“Castle...knows the territory well here, whether of the woods or the human heart. Go With Me is a fine testament to his considerable talents.” (Hartford Courant)

“One of the smartest novels we’ve read in a long time.” (Time Out Chicago)

“Freeman’s ear is flawless. The dialogue is taut, funny, wise, poignant, deceptively simple and only on occasion profane. . . . The description is astute and often beautiful.” (The Times-Argus (VT)The Times-Argus (VT)The Times-Argus (Vermont))

“In this compact little gem of a novel two unlikely heroes help a stubborn woman track down a villainous bully. It’s a tale of love and justice and it’s beautifully constructed, with lightness and with expertise, out of north country conversations so quietly funny that every page brings a smile.” (Reeve Lindbergh, author of Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age--and Other Unexpected Adventures)

“...the best mystery you missed in 2008...Tense and funny, “Go With Me” glides on pitch-perfect dialogue and a humdinger finale. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“This unusual little gem of a book is part comic romp and part nail-biting thriller...Castle Freeman writes with both wit and a deep understanding of the human psyche, and he does not cheat us out of a dramatic climax.” (The Guardian)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061671851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061671852
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a little gem.

Summary, no spoilers.

This is the story of a young woman, who refuses to back down and leave after the town bully torments her, and runs off her boyfriend. She seeks the help of the sheriff, who directs her to a colorful group of locals from this small Vermont town. They send her off with two of their own - a wily old man, and a big strapping young guy who works with him.

The action alternates between the girl and the 2 men seeking out the villain, and the small group that had sent them off. The latter group serves as the Greek chorus, and their dialogue is funny, profound, and clever. It's a neat trick.

I highly recommend this novel. It's short, but there's not a wasted word. It feels like a much bigger book. It was very suspenseful, and I was tense and nervous as I got near the end. When I turned the last page I felt satisfied.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
"Chivalry isn't dead; it has just retreated to the backwoods of Vermont. Far beyond the range of leaf-peepers, quaint B&Bs and wealthy liberals lie millions of acres of dark forest, the kind of rich soil that chivalric romance has grown in for centuries. James Fenimore Cooper first saw the possibilities of moving the knights errant of medieval Europe to New England's woods, and now Castle Freeman Jr. performs an equally radical transplant with Go With Me, his oddly witty tale of a damsel in distress." Ron Charles

Remember Daryl, Daryl and their brother, Daryl of the old television series with Bob Newhart? Quadruple their force and you have the setting for a small group of townsmen who gather every day at the old chair mill. They discuss, they foretell and they are the old Greek wise men. Throughout this novel, they speak and reminisce and give each other advice. Whizzer is the leader of the group. He was a logger until one of the trees got him, and now as a paraplegic, his job is to keep this group together, with and without beer, on a daily basis.

Lillian, a young woman with long brown hair to her ass, as we are constantly reminded, comes to this group one day. She has been harassed by Blackway, the area's mafia bad guy. He sent her boyfriend scurrying out of town, broke her car window and then killed her beloved cat. She went to the local Sheriff Wingate who told her he there wasn't anything he could do to help her. He advised she leave town, she said no. A 'pistol' he thought, she was. He sent her on to Whizzer for help.

Whizzer looked for volunteers and Nate the Great, "a tall, long-boned, heavy-wristed kid: not a scholar, not a talker. Smarter than a horse, not smarter than a tractor." The other is Lester, an old man with a heavy limp. "Was he seventy?
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Format: Paperback
I don't think I've ever marked down a book purely for production reasons, but the typography in the paperback edition is terrible.

E.g.,
"'Coop went to the cof feepot. "Mo uth on her too,' he said."

There's no excuse for this given the sophistication of digital type now. The book is beautifully written, but don't waste your money on this paperback edition. It's too distracting to slog through the bad typography.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
GO WITH ME is a novel written very much in the spirit of Cormac McCarthy. Freeman is frugal with the details, and relies on sparse realism to guide his very simple tale to its very simple conclusion.

Novels this short and this quiet can be quite deceptive. It's called hiding in plain sight. Just as a glance across a crowded courtroom can be both straightforward and frought with complexities, so can the right kind of unadorned writing bristle with the sort of import and passion and depth that most English Lit professors never dare dream of.

Freeman's story is about a woman named Lillian who has caught the attention of a local disease, a dangerous villain named Blackway (let's not analyze the name). Seeking a cure against his destructive attentions, Lillian finds aid in an elderly fellow named Lester and a beefy young lad named Nate.

Saying any more would give away what little punch this novella has to offer (c'mon, folks; this is NOT a novel). I'm not saying it's not entertaining. A fellow named Whizzer and his round-table of good-old-boys spend the entire novel drinking beers and chewing the fat, and their authentic back-and-forth is what really gives the book the intrigue and humor and pathos that it wants so much to have elsewhere.

However, the core of the plot (ESPECIALLY Nate and Lester's motivations) is not only as fine and as delicate as a spider web, it holds about as much weight, too.
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Format: Hardcover
Go With Me is a little like a modern western, lean and angular. This slight novel features great characters and a fast-moving plot intertwined with wandering musings of the local townsfolk, through which you learn the history of the town and the characters. I won't repeat the story line here, just advise you to get this book and lose yourself for a few hours. P.S. Robert Duvall, who played Gus McCrae in "Lonesome Dove" would make a great Lester in this movie version of this story.
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