By William Maxwell
There's a special society of readers who know what a perfect novel So Long, See You Tomorrow is, and I'm proud to be among them. The story opens with a murder, suicide, and mutilation near the small Illinois town of Lincoln, but quickly turns to the emotional journey of Maxwell himself, who, in 1918, at the age of ten, lost his mother to the Great Influenza. The result is a braid of memoir, fact, and fiction rendered in gorgeously spare prose. There's not a page I haven't lingered over, but I have a special attachment to Trixie, a dog who is briefly given her own point of view in the second half of the book. Trixie occasioned a now-famous debate between Maxwell and his editor, who thought it was going too far to allow a dog's dreams. Maxwell stood his ground, and as a result brought to life the character I consider Almondine's literary mother.