The Signal by Ron Carlson
In Novel on August 4, 2009 at 3:00 am
If at all possible, read this book on a ranch in Wyoming or Montana having spent a decent amount of time there; that way you’ll know the quantity of precise detail that Carlson puts into his description of place—the central character. If you know this sort of place, your heart will ache to be there; you will consider looking at flights to get there now. If you don’t have half a lifetime to spend in the wild, and have never caught your own meal through the dance of fly-fishing, take Carlson’s word: There were forty flies, some the size of capitol letters in the Bible and some as big as dimes, all of them four-color, three-material masterpieces. Mack and Vonnie backpack through the Wyoming wild one last time: post divorce, and as Carlson reels through all things macho (drug trafficking, illegal poaching, gun-wielding chase scenes), more than anything he presents two broken people no longer trying to fix one another. A rare thing. The end of this relationship is gentle and somber—a loss of familiar things: sugar cubes in hot tea, bedtime stories of lost souls—amid the wild action of the place: a thing that cannot end.