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So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

Hosted By Aimee Bender

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When I was in graduate school, a trusted friend told me about this novel, So Long, See You Tomorrow, and how it was one of his favorites. He hooked me in when he mentioned a surprise move in the storytelling, something I won’t reveal now, because it would be a kind of lowkey spoiler, but it let me know the book was different than how it appeared; I didn’t imagine this plainspoken-looking novel would take such a risk. His comment got me in the door of the book, which is then full of further surprises; it’s a novel with a dramatic story to tell, and that intrigued me too, but it has a quiet core, a thrumming beautiful dignified quiet core about loss, and that is the magnetic pull that brings me to it again and again. I really look forward to reading and discussing it with you.

Aimee Bender

is the author of six books, most recently The Butterfly Lampshade (Anchor).

William Maxwell

(1908–2000) was the fiction editor at the New Yorker from 1936–1975, where he worked with writers such as John Cheever, Eudora Welty, and Mavis Gallant. He was also the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction; as well as two books for children.


Daily Reading

Day 1

October 15, 2020 | Chapters 1 and 2

Hello, #APS people! What a true pleasure to read this book with you. This book that begins with a pistol shot. Chapter title and event. So it appears to be a kind of mystery. I find this so interesting—what it presents itself as and what it is.

Day 2

October 16, 2020 | Chapter 3

We’re architecturally in a new space, one where the windows and doors are open air, and Maxwell makes a leap to… MOMA? How odd, suddenly, to be in New York City, looking at a Giacometti, and yet yes, yes, why not?

Day 3

October 17, 2020 | Chapter 4

Quick aside: “corduroy knickerbockers”?!! When IS this book happening? This is how I imagine the idea of making “mix tapes” sounds to Gen Z.

Day 4

October 18, 2020 | Chapter 5

“William Maxwell's my favorite North American writer, I think… There were a lot of writers that I found in 'The New Yorker' in the 50s who wrote about the same type of material I did - about emotions and places.” (Alice Munro interview)

Day 5

October 19, 2020 | Chapter 6

Side characters enter, exit. Close eye on the difficulties of tenant farming and the full scope and possibilities of 3rd person now kicking in.

Day 6

October 20, 2020 | Chapter 7

From writer/editor Daniel Menaker on the book: “The writing is as clear and sharp as grain alcohol. Mr. Maxwell once said that he consciously tried to achieve this clarity…

Day 7

October 21, 2020 | Chapter 8

Oh, readers. So much raw (yet meticulously crafted) heartache in Chapter 8. I’m glad we’re reading it together. As @anotherannmarie noted, “this is the saddest book I’ve read for ages.” P. 112: “…take away… take away…”

Day 8

October 22, 2020 | Chapter 9

What state are you in after Chapter 8? Chapter 9 knows we are carrying a lot, so first a pause, a lighter tone as we walk the streets with an older narrator, recalling “the Halloween party,” “the rooms so bright, so charming and full of character.”


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