“The older you get, the less courage you have.” —William Keepers Maxwell
I am in love with Maxwell’s writing. They Came Like Swallows (1937) is a reread for me. (And many thanks to my good friend Toni for introducing me to this lovely novel.) So Long, See You Tomorrow (1979) is a new read for me. Maxwell lived from 1908 to 2000 and was known for his work as fiction editor at The New Yorker.
Both novels feature an older brother with an amputated leg due to a carriage accident. Both have a mother who dies after giving birth during the 1918 influenza epidemic. Both novels feature a family with three boys. It seems that Maxwell’s writing is highly autobiographical (his mother died in the flu epidemic) and thematic.
They Came Like Swallows is a detailed meditation on the above ideas. So Long, See You Tomorrow picks up where the death of the mother leaves off and tells a new story, one of murder, jealousy, the past, and friendship. We learn about two families’ struggles with each other because of betrayal through the eyes of a boy, the boy whose mother died in the flu epidemic. I suspect that boy is a fictional version of Maxwell.
I highly recommend Maxwell’s writing. It’s gorgeous.