Forethoughts: All That I Have by Castle Freeman

All That I Have by Castle Freeman Note: My afterthoughts on All That I Have have now been posted.

The reading fun never stops here at RobAround Manor as I move swiftly on to the next novel in my wobbly book pile, All That I Have by Castle Freeman, which is published by Duckworth today (21st January). And to be honest with you, before I begin reading this short novel, I have not the slightest inkling of what to expect. So, let’s begin with the cover blurb:

In this gripping, wise and darkly funny tale of suspense, Sheriff Lucian Wing confronts a series of trials that test his work, his marriage, and the settled order of his life. Wing is an experienced, practical man who enforces the law in his corner of Vermont with a steady hand and a generous tolerance. But when local tearaway Sean ‘Superboy’ Duke starts to get tangled up with a group of major league Russian criminals, things start to go awry in the sheriff’s small, protected domain. With an ambitious and aggressive deputy snapping at his heels and a domestic crisis of his own to confront, Wing must call on all the personal resources he has cultivated during his working life: patience, tact and (especially) humour.

Wow, it sounds as though it’s all happening at once for poor old Sheriff Wing, which is no bad thing I guess, because I wouldn’t imagine that a novel based on the normal, day-to-day happenings of a small town cop would have me perched on the edge of my reading chair, eagerly anticipating every page turn. But throw a few cats among the pigeons, in the shape of a bunch of hard-nosed Russians, and latch on the promise of some kind of domestic dispute, and the reading prospect seems a whole lot more promising.

CastleFreeman Now I’ve done my research, so I know that Castle Freeman is something of an accomplished writer, with a brace of titles under his belt. But I for one am a total newcomer to this Vermont-based author. But that’s OK, because as regular followers of RobAroundBooks would know, I love being introduced to new writers – especially ones who appear to be an authority on a particular subject. And Mr. Freeman’s ‘particular subject’ seems to be ‘small town living’ because aside from living in one himself (Newfane, Vermont), all of his published fiction to date (three novels – Judgement Hill, My Life and Adventures and Go With Me (also published in the UK by Duckworth in the UK); one short story collection – The Bride of Ambrose), is set in various backwater towns of Vermont. So if anyone knows and understands what it’s like to live and work in these small, middle-of-nowhere towns, then Castle Freeman is the man.

So I really am looking forward to this one, and at only 165 pages I don’t imagine it taking me too long to tick off. I’ll be back with my afterthoughts just as soon as I’m done, and in the meantime you can follow my reading progress via my reading journal.

Duckworth Publishers | 21st January 2009 | £7.99 | PAPERBACK | 165 PP | ISBN: 9780715639023

A note about forethoughts
‘Forethoughts’ offer an insight into what my initial thoughts and impressions of a book are, before I begin reading it. Informal, and largely written as a stream-of-consciousness exercise in a single sitting, my ‘forethoughts’ capture an important stage of the reading experience for me – the anticipatory period before the book is first opened, when my excitement is piqued for the reading experience which lies ahead.

Blissfully ignorant my ‘forethoughts’ may well be, but when they’re combined with my eventual ‘afterthoughts’, the result is a unique and comprehensive record of a very personal literary ‘journey’ through a particular book; a literary journey which will hopefully be of some value to other readers.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Mark Jones says:

    This looks likes look quite a read, like it’s really something special… Brilliant title… gets you thinking, poignant…evocative MJ

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      So far so good Mark. It has a very ‘small town’ feel about it, and I’m loving how the Sheriff – main star of the show as you can no doubt tell – goes off on little monological asides.

  2. Mark Jones says:

    I’ll check back for your afterthoughts on this one, I quite like tangents..monolgues.. um.. but only if they work really well… we’ll see… cheers though, MJ