Larry Watson's 'As Good As Gone' Offers Nuanced Take on the Classic Cowboy

Dec 26, 2016

Of the many archetypes that exist in popular culture, the cowboy may be considered the most American.

From Hollywood movies to dimestore novels and the Marlboro Man, for many of us the image of the cowboy conjures up nostalgic ideas of old world charm and masculinity. Even today, people in other parts of the world sometimes stereotype American attitudes and personalities by using the metaphor of the cowboy.

Milwaukee writer Larry Watson’s latest novel focuses on a more nuanced portrayal of that classic figure. As Good As Gone is set in Montana tells the story of Calvin Sidey, a cowboy who has lived in seclusion for much of life. 

The character was partly inspired by Watson's grandfather, but unlike Sidey he was less fond of his time as a cowboy and found more pride in his later accomplishments. "He didn't think of his cowboy years as the high point of his life," Watson says. "He thought he was a success when he homesteaded, raised a family, helped start a community, a church, a school."

Watson’s past books include Let Him Go, Montana 1948, among others. He will talk more about his latest novel with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich at a book launch tomorrow evening at Boswell Book Company. He’ll also be at Books & Company in Oconomowoc on Wednesday evening.

 *Originally aired in June 2016