American Boy
American Boy (back cover)

American Boy

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We were exposed to these phenomena in order that we might learn something, but then the lessons we learn are not always those we are taught… .

So begins Matthew Garth’s story of the fall of 1962, when the shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events in Willow Falls, Minnesota. Matthew first sees Louisa Lindahl in a doctor’s office, and at the time her bullet wound makes nearly as strong an impression as her unclothed body. Fueled over the following weeks by his feverish longing for this mysterious woman—as well as by a deep desire for the comfort and affluence that appears to surround the doctor’s family—Matthew finds himself drawn into a series of confrontations he never expected, the results of which will change his life irrevocably and give lie to his version of the American dream.

“Powerful and exquisitely crafted” (Chicago Tribune) and “filled with rugged prose” (Washington Post), American Boy is an immersive and heartbreaking read from a great American storyteller.

Publish Date
7.5 × 5.3 × 0.8 in
10 oz

Larry Watson

Larry Watson is the author of numerous novels, including Montana 1948, American Boy, As Good As Gone, and Let Him Go, which was adapted into a film by Focus Features and released in 2020. Born in Rugby, North Dakota, he grew up in Bismarck and is now Visiting Professor at Marquette University. He lives in Milwaukee.

Praise and Prizes

  • “Filled with rugged prose as biting as a northern plains wind, the next page is as inviting and lyrical as a well-stoked stove. Larry Watson writes of people universal in their flaws and virtues, a community that cannot be defined or limited to one region or genre.”

    Washington Post
  • “There’s something eminently universal in Larry Watson’s ponderings on the human condition, and it’s refracted through a nearly perfect eye for character, place, and the rhythms of language.”

    The Nation
  • “Powerful and exquisitely crafted … Larry Watson’s portraits of small town life and the people who live it—mostly during the 1940s and 1950s—are compassionate and true.”

    Chicago Tribune
  • “There are a handful of writers I push on everyone I meet, and Larry Watson is one of them. For the past twenty years he has quietly penned some of the wisest, most powerful novels in my library, and I am thrilled to make room on the shelf for his latest, a gripping, poignant coming-of-age story that opens with a gunshot that will ultimately bury its bullet in your heart. American Boy is an American classic.”

    Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon
  • American Boy may be Larry Watson’s best yet. With the patient skill of a seasoned writer, Watson tells an engaging coming-of-age story of a young man in Willow Falls, Minnesota, during the 1960s. Youthful passions, heartbreaks, loyalties, and moral uncertainties are all rendered in vivid color.”

    David Rhodes, author of Driftless
  • “Larry Watson spins charm and melancholy around the same fingers, the result a soft but urgent rendering of a young man coming of age in rural America that is recognizable to even those of us who were never there.”

    Denver Post
  • “Larry Watson has penned some of the best contemporary fiction about small-town America, and his new novel does not disappoint… . With his graceful writing style, well-drawn characters, and subtly moving plot, Watson masterfully portrays the dark side of small-town America. Enthusiastically recommended.”

    Library Journal
    (starred review)