384 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 1.1 in
April 1, 1998
Washington Square Press
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 067156773X
ISBN - 13: 9780671567736
Read from the Book
Chapter 1When Sheriff Jack Nevelsen got the call from the dispatcher about the accident out on Highway 284 -- single car, two fatalities -- his first thought was, kids. Teenagers. Oh, sweet Jesus, somebody's babies.It was ten o'clock Sunday night, May 28, 1957, and Bentrock High School's senior class had graduated that afternoon. Mercer County's roads and highways were going to be traveled that night by kids going from party to party. And they were going to be drinking.This was Jack's fear every year at graduation, that a kid -- or worse, kids, a whole car full of them -- would get drunk and try to beat a train to a crossing, or weave across the center line, and some parents' proudest day would turn into their worst. On graduation night kids drank; the ones who never drank would probably pick that night to start, and the ones who drank regularly would try to do it up bigger than ever.So far Mercer County had been lucky. No graduation-night tragedy for them. But three years ago they came close, damn close. The kids held a big party at an area north of town known as The Haystacks, and in all the driving back and forth, a young woman missed a bridge and landed her car in a creek bed. Jack could never figure out if it was good or bad that the creek was dry.At any rate, the drop from the bridge was not far, less than fifteen feet, and everyone got out of the car unhurt. Only minutes later, another carload of kids -- speeding around the same curve -- missed the same bridge. They di
From the Publisher
Larry Watson's previous fiction evoking contemporary Western small-town life has won him awards, a dedicated readership, and unqualified critical praise. Now he has written a novel that envelops the rich emotional terrain of his beloved Montana in a mystery that is both unexpected and unforgettable.
After a nighttime accident at the bottom of Sprull Hill in Bentrock, Sheriff Jack Nevelsen is compelled to try and protect a part of his hometown that even a hero would have trouble saving -- its innocence. For most everyone in the community would agree that June Moss, the quiet girl who had just graduated from high school, and Leo Bauer, the principal of Bentrock Elementary and a married man like Jack, had no business heading out of town together.
As Jack sets out to unravel the mystery of their deaths, he begins to create a story to shield his town, a lie that will reverberate throughout an entire community, and into the shadows of his own heart.
About the Author
Larry Watson was born in Rugby, North Dakota, and raised in Bismarck. The winner of numerous literary awards, he won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, The Mountains & Plains Bookseller Association Regional Book Award, and his novel Montana 1948
was named one of the Best Books of 1993 by both Library Journal
He is also the author of In a Dark Time,
a novel, Leaving Dakota,
a collection of poetry, and Justice,
a book of short fiction. He is a recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts award in fiction. Larry Watson teaches English at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.
From Our Editors
From the bestselling author of "Montana 1948" comes "one of the most irresistible novels of the year" ("The (Toronto) Globe and Mail"). After a mysterious car accident occurs, Sheriff Jack Nevelson is compelled to try and protect a part of his hometown that even a hero would have trouble saving--its innocence.
Margaret Cannon The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Haunting....One of the most irresistible novels of the year.
Reading Group Discussion Points
- The motives behind human behavior are seldom simple or singular. What motivates Jack Nevelsen to act as he does? What about other characters in the novel?
- The novel's action takes place in 1957. Could it have happened in the 1990's?
- The 1950's are often characterized as a buttoned-up, repressed decade. In what ways can White Crosses be read as a novel about repression?
- What role does the community of Bentrock play in influencing the behavior of various characters?
- Jack Nevelsen concocts a lie because he believes the truth will damage his community. What is the source of his belief? Does it come primarily from his knowledge of the town and its citizens or from his own character? From what you learn of the town, is his belief justified?
- Telling a lie seems to release something in Jack Nevelsen's nature. What is it? Why does it?
- Much of the novel is concerned with Jack Nevelsen's perceptions, which are wrong almost as often as they are right. What are examples of both his accurate and inaccurate perceptions?
- Through the course of the novel, what aspects of his own personality is Jack Nevelsen forced to confront?
- How might the relationship between Jack and Nora Nevelsen be described?
- Why does Jack Nevelsen suspect his wife of having had an affair?
- How would you characterize the lie that Jack Nevelsen devises? Is it naive? Desperate? Evil?
- In the classical Greek tragedy, the hero, through pride and arrogance, brings about his own downfall. Is this true about Jack Nevelsen?