Castle Freeman, Jr. is the author of four novels (including the acclaimed Go With Me), a collection of essays, a major history of 250 years in a Vermont township, two story collections, and several score uncollected stories, essays, and other work set in rural northern New England. His writings have been published in periodicals including many literary magazines, The Old Farmer's Almanac, Yankee Magazine, Vermont Life Magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly. He lives in Newfane, Vermont with his wife, Alice.

Round Mountain

Twelve Stories by Castle Freeman

Introduction by Pinckney Benedict





In the backwoods towns of Round Mountain, time circles like a mountain road. Friends disappear and show up again, older if not wiser. Small incidents—a night of drinking, a robbery, a strange visitor from Canada—loom larger as the decades pass. And over time, the true colors of every man, woman, and child become known to all.

Nothing escapes the clear eye of Castle Freeman, Jr., a meticulous master storyteller who knows his territory. Lean and razor-sharp, these dozen stories pack more in Round Mountain than a novel ten times as long.


“Freeman’s ear is flawless.”
– The Times-Argus (Vt.)

 “Freeman’s beautifully cadenced dialogue is rich with humor, philosophic depth and a near-mythic sensibility.”
– Publisher’s Weekly

"Castle Freeman writes with both wit and a deep understanding of the human psyche.”

– The Guardian (UK)




On Round Mountain

By Pinckney Benedict

When I was a boy, I used to have the privilege, though it seemed natural enough to me, of spending much of my time alone. I grew up on my family’s dairy farm in southern West Virginia, and my mother felt perfectly comfortable sending me out on those long-ago mornings with a lunch pail in my hand, a little pump-action Marlin .22 over my shoulder, and perhaps fifteen long-rifle cartridges, for plinking, in my pocket. I developed a powerful taste for solitude and forested places in those days, even though the woods of our farm were (I see now that I am older) thoroughly domesticated.

Later, I sought out wilder fastnesses farther from home. I recall with almost painful nostalgia the way that, in certain places high in the Alleghenies, the woods – the trunks of the trees so close, their canopies so lush, the undergrowth so dense, that you could feel sometimes that you were not outside at all, but rather that you were standing in a small intensely green windowless room of deep secrets and almost unbearable beauty – would suddenly open up to astonishing and unsuspected vistas: plummeting waterfalls, wild rivers veined with rapids, and vast fossil-marked sandstone monoliths hulking together like the buildings of some forgotten Paleolithic city.

Round Mountain is a book like that, exactly like those panoramic outlooks hidden in the woods of my boyhood. How small (comfortingly at first, and then distressingly) this world of lovingly-drawn rural people seems, on first encounter! And how vast it is revealed to be, when we push forward towards its end: impossibly vast, terrifying and gorgeous, as dangerous and as intoxicating as any mountain wilderness.

How luxuriant is the accretion of character details across these dozen stories! And how polished the stories are, without ever being cold. How quiet without ever (not for a moment ) turning dull. How dry, how droll, without any sacrifice of seriousness. How tragic, without ever indulging in maudlin or manipulative emotion. How visionary: the climax of the title story – a story that puts its writer in the legendary company of folks like Welty and O’Connor –enters unabashedly into the realm of prophecy. The world of Round Mountain seems, on first blush, quite small; but it is in truth vast and glorious, filled with fear and awe.

It is a world that, once you have entered it, you will not want to leave, and that you will never forget.

Carbondale, Illinois May, 2011