Night Letter by Sterling Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Night Letter, by Sterling Watson, would be an ugly, uncomfortable read if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Watson’s skill with language. His descriptive passages are painted with dense and evocative strokes, capturing the sweaty, bug-ridden lushness of a Florida with societal class rules of the late sixties.
The folks who live and work in the town that Travis Hollister has returned to after six years of reform school have compelling histories and powerful desires that both limit and draw the teenager. He wants to return to the life and the sexual/emotional relationship he’d been ripped away from, but he’s seventeen now and nobody is the same anymore,especially Travis himself.
Travis is hard to like but impossible to give up on. His reasons for his actions may not be yours or mine, but they make emotional sense even as the we cry out No, don’t go there! because life is so often like that: dark, but never so easy as black and white and therefore messy. Night Letter is no fairy tale with the reassurance of a happily after ever and in that way it’s just like real life.