Julius Winsome: A Novel by Gerard Donovan

Donovan’s poetic, well-crafted third novel, like his debut, Schopenhauer’s Telescope, shows how violence can infect and take over a person’s life. Julius Winsome has retreated with his old dog, Hobbes, to a remote family cabin in the northern Maine woods. “Many men live in these woods who cannot live anywhere else,” he tells us. “They live alone and are tuned close to any offense you might give them.” Winsome has some physical skills (he’s an excellent shot with his grandfather’s WWI Enfield rifle), but mostly he spends the long winters reading from his father’s library of 3,282 classic books neatly arranged around the cabin walls. Only once did a chance for love and companionship brush him; it will return to haunt him as his frightening and touching story unfolds. Winsome’s descent into anger, sadness, perhaps madness, begins when a deer hunter deliberately kills Hobbes. From that moment, Winsome’s need for revenge grows rapidly and irrationally. Readers will sympathize with him every step of the way.