Archive for November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted: November 24, 2011 in notes, Southern States, USA

I thought it was appropriate to start reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin a quintessential American novel just the day before Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays. Sometimes books don’t live up to the hype and ballyhoo, but this one has me gripped from the start. But then I admit to a long love affair with small American towns and their compelling atmosphere, a subtle mixture of hospitality and menace.

I usually find blurbs a bit off-putting, but this one by Ann Hood inside the front cover made me take notice:

It’s about ordinary people like you and me, traveling through that extraordinary journey called life. I just love this book.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter reminded me a little of books by Daniel Woodrell, and Joe Lansdale, not just because it is set in the South but because of the quality of the writing. 

Five reasons you know you are in the South. 

1] Your guide refers to the “Federal occupation”, and when you explain to your puzzled fellow tourists she means the Civil War, you are firmly corrected with a drawled ‘The War between the States’.

2] A well maintained house with a beautifully kept lawn is right next door a virtually derelict shack with overgrown grass and various rusting vehicles all over the place. There is no fence between the properties because that would be unneighbourly.

3] If you take the wrong road in any town you can turn round within a 100 yards in a choice of six large church car parks.

4] You pull in to a restaurant car park, and yours is the only vehicle that is not a pick up truck with a gun rack. 

5] When the pleasant small town you stopped for lunch is revealed to be the site of a huge crystal meths laboratory in a FBI raid the next day. 

[Note on photos: Pittsburg Landing is near Savannah TN, a few miles from the Mississippi state line.]