What happens when two thirtysomething siblings relive the summer reading programs of their youth in an all-out battle of the books? The race is on as they read by the rules and keep tally on their logs to see who will be the ultimate reader by Labor Day 2010.

September 3, 2010

Winter's Bone

In yet another pathetic attempt to remain current (see: skinny jeans* and listening to Cee-Lo), I joined Twitter a few months ago. I did it mainly to follow various pop-culture and news blogs, and Roger Ebert's feed was one of the first to which I subscribed. I love him because of his cranky-old-man-tell-it-like-it-is style, but I can't stand him because of his ceaseless retweets of people who I have no desire to hear from, namely Bluegrass Poet. Not to be melodramatic, but her spare and folksy 140-character ramblings make me want to drink bleach. I can't take anyone seriously who talks about the "obstreperous dawn chatter" of the birds in her yard.

This is a roundabout way of saying that I loved Daniel Woodrell's "Winter's Bone." Employing a similarly spare style as Ms. Bluegrass (to far greater success), Woodrell's sentences are gorgeously constructed and totally fit into the time and place of his Ozark-set story. The lushness of his writing counterbalances the bleak existence of his characters, luring you into reading this often grim tale. Like Gillian Flynn in "Dark Places," he captures the visceral dread of poverty, and if I could have written a check for the characters after the first twenty pages, I would have.

The book itself is set up as a detective story, with sixteen year-old Ree Dolly having to track down her missing father,who also happens to be one of the ares most skilled meth makers. He has put up their house in his jail bond, and if he doesn't shows up to his upcoming court date Ree and her two young brothers will be homeless. As she interviews the various terrifying people who make up her town and family, she introduces the reader to an alomost forgotten part of America, where resources and opportunites are scarce. By the end of the novel, she has come into her own (not to spoil anything but I thought you would want to know such a desperate story has a somewhat happy ending). After finishing it, I was grateful to have been exposed to such a world, yet well aware that I would last all of .8 seconds in the company of Meth Dealers (coincidentally .2 seconds I would have lasted in the word of "Lonesome Dove").

*Just a joke. I would never wear something that uncomfortable. Besides, I am over thirty.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to think that, had our father been a convicted meth dealer, we would have developed excellent coping and strategy skills that would have boosted our chances at survival. Kind of like how playing with IQ tests that were stored in a closet (and were completely off limits) helped hone our abilities to correctly answer standardized tests.