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So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

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The start of this story is an account of a murder and suicide set in the 1920s in a town in rural America. It's easy to get into and absorbing from the word go. It is also a slim volume and so can’t afford to waste words but brings across the characters, the description of the people, places and the era, very vividly, in carefully chosen words. There are parallel stories running through it, involving two young lads who come together in a tenuous fashion to connect the plot in a believable way. At first I had thought it would be a straight forward who-dun-it detective tale, but instead it revealed the autobiographical account of the life of the boy who tells the story, and then his account of what could have happened to the other lad, who was the son of the murderer, after their friendship ended. The imaginative quality of the thoughts of the narrator, even down to an imaginary dog that could have had a place in the tale, was intriguing and thought provoking and I found it a quite unique and unusual approach and a very good read.

One of Ann Patchett's favourite books.

'When thinking of a novel I would want to pass on to future generations, it stood to reason that I would see my favourite William Maxwell novel as the best inheritance. It comes from a place so deep inside the human soul that I cannot imagine a time when its wisdom would not feel fresh and applicable. The result is a mosaic of human emotion, a singular and spectacular work of art.' You can read Ann Patchett's full Introduction to So Long, See you Tomorrow in this Orange Inheritance edition published by Vintage.


So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

This Orange Inheritance Edition of So Long, See You Tomorrow is published in association with the Orange Prize for Fiction. Books shape our lives and transform the way we see ourselves and each other. The best books are timeless and continue to be relevant generation after generation. Vintage Classics asked the winners of The Orange Prize for Fiction which books they would pass onto the next generation and why. Ann Patchett chose So Long, See You Tomorrow. In rural Illinois, two tenant farmers share much, finally too much, until jealously leads to murder and suicide. A tenuous friendship between lonely teenagers - the narrator, whose mother has died young, and Cletus Smith, the troubled witness to his parent's misery - is shattered. After the murder and upheavals that follow, the boys never speak again. Fifty years on, the narrator attempts a reconstruction of those devastating events and the atonement of a lifetime's regret.

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'The novel comes from a place so deep inside the human soul that I cannot imagine a time its wisdom would not feel fresh and applicable.' Ann Patchett

About the Author

William Maxwell was born in Illinois in 1908. He was the author of a distinguished body of work: six novels, three short story collections, an autobiographical memoir and a collection of literary essays and reviews. A New Yorker editor for forty years, he helped to shape the prose and careers of John Updike, John Cheever, John O'Hara and Eudora Welty. So Long, See You Tomorrow won the American Book Award, and he received the PEN/Malamud Award. He died in New York in 2000.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th April 2011


William Maxwell

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Vintage Classics an imprint of Vintage


176 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Classic fiction (pre c 1945)



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