Archive for November 27, 2011

I finished reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter a truly memorable book by Tom Franklin yesterday. I think that for me to write much more than a few comments would be superfluous when you can read a couple of comprehensive superbly thoughtful reviews by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, and by Maxine at Petrona.

Set in rural Mississippi the main characters Larry Ott and Silas Jones were briefly boyhood friends. Silas Jones, son of a black single mother, is now the small town’s only law officer, whose main task is to direct traffic when the shift changes at the local lumber mill. Larry Ott, the child of lower middle class white folk, is now the town outcast, because 25 years ago he went on one date with Cindy Walker, and the teenage girl was never seen again. He survives by selling off plots of land, and sits day after day in his garage waiting for business that never comes. Now another white girl, Tina Rutherford, daughter of the mill owner has gone missing, and inevitably suspicion once again falls on Larry. 

Author Tom Franklin is a great storyteller, and this book which recently won the CWA Gold Dagger has everything; plot, characters, social comment, a wonderful sense of place, believable dialogue and a smooth narrative style. The back stories that make up a lot of the book flow smoothly out of the narrative as the reader learns more and more about the flawed characters. Perhaps we all have a little of Larry and Silas in us, and say “well that could have been me if this or that had happened”; and that is why this book is so gripping. 

This sounds very cliched, but I can only say this is a must read, even if you have never been anywhere near the American South. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter  is a moving story all about friendship, racism, fear of the other, cruelty, loneliness, redemption and  hope for a better future. It is more than a crime fiction book, a superb novel about that very difficult journey called life. 

“They’ll sink their teeth into anything you give em, try to make this a damn human interest story. I don’t know about yall, but I don’t want no humans interested in me.”