Northwest Corner, Paperback
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Twelve years after a tragic accident and a cover-up that led to prison time, Dwight Arno, now fifty, is a man who has started over without exactly moving on.

Living alone in California, haunted yet keeping his head down, Dwight manages a sporting goods store and dates a woman to whom he hasn't revealed the truth about his past.

Then an unexpected arrival throws his carefully neutralized life into turmoil and exposes all that he's hidden.

Sam, Dwight's estranged college-age son, has shown up without warning, fleeing a devastating incident in his own life.

In its way, Sam's sense of guilt is as crushing as his father's.

As the two men are forced to confront their similar natures and their half-buried hopes for connection, they must also search for redemption and love.

In turn, they dramatically transform the lives of the women around them: the ex-wives, mothers, and lovers they have turned to in their desperate attempts to somehow rewrite, outrun, or eradicate the past. Told in the resonant voices of everyday people gripped in the emotional riptide of lived life, Northwest Corner is at once tough and heart-lifting, an urgent, powerful story about family bonds that can never be broken and the wayward roads that lead us back to those we love.




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John Burnham Schwartz's NORTHWEST CORNER is simply one of the most moving, page-turning novels I have read in a long time. With his super short and precisely worded chapters, Mr. Schwartz's writing is evocative proof positive that less is indeed more. Here's an early sample that let me know I was going to love this book. Protagonist Dwight Arno, a divorced ex-con who has not seen his son in more than a decade, suddenly has him back in his life, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. Watching him sleep, he is suddenly afraid his son is dead -"I'm halfway to the bed, stepping panicked over my set of dumbbells strewn across the rubber-matted floor, when I see his chest rise. I stop to watch him breathing in and out, until I'm sure."A simple enough description of a father's sudden and unreasonable panic for the safety of his child, albeit a 22 year-old one. It made me remember when I was a new father and would often lean over my infant son's sleeping body, watching, listening to him breathe, sometimes touching him to be sure. Dwight Arno may have been an absent father, a distant father, but even then, after years apart from his son, he was still very much a father. Schwartz is a master of finding the right word, the perfect phrase. The kind of writing I found here, in NORTHWEST CORNER, is rare and precious. It packs a powerful emotional punch.I know that this novel is a sequel to an earlier one, RESERVATION ROAD. I gotta read that book. In the meantime, I will press this one on anyone who appreciates fine writing. Very highly recommended.

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