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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letterby Tom Franklin
In this story of race and youth, of tragedies that time alone cannot heal, and the ways we still need each other even when it seems too late, Franklin beautifully captures human relationships in both their simplicity and unutterable complexities.
Synopses & Reviews
Tom Franklin's extraordinary talent has been hailed by the leading lights of contemporary literature — Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Lee Smith, and Dennis Lehane. Reviewers have called his fiction ingenious (USA Today) and compulsively readable (Memphis Commercial Appeal). His narrative power and flair for characterization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.
Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far — an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county — and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.
More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.
"A ripping good mystery, this novel also has depth and a subtle literary side.... Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Edgar Award winner Franklin renders luminous prose and a cast of compelling characters in this moody, masterful entry." Starred Review Booklist
"The classic trifecta of talent, heart, and a bone-deep sense of storytelling.... A masterful performance, deftly rendered and deeply satisfying. For days on end, I woke with this story on my mind." David Wroblewski
"If you're looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is your next book" Washington Post
In a small Mississippi town, two men are torn apart by circumstance and reunited by tragedy, in this resonant new novel from the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Hell at the Breech.
A former prison guard and talented fiddler returns to his Montana hometown to bury his wife and confront the inmate who, twenty years ago, held him hostage during a prison riot.
From the critically acclaimed author of Dear American Airlines, a compulsively readable, deeply human novel that charts the course of three intersecting lives—a freegan couple living off the grid in Manhattan, a once prominent linguist struggling with midlife, and a New Jersey debt-collection magnate with a new family and a second chance at getting things right—in a thoroughly contemporary examination of that most basic and unquenchable emotion: want.
A compulsively readable, deeply human novel that examines our most basic and unquenchable emotion: want.
With his critically acclaimed first novel, Jonathan Miles was widely praised as a comic genius “after something bigger” (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times) whose fiction was “not just philosophically but emotionally rewarding” (Richard Russo, New York Times Book Review, front cover).
Now, in his much anticipated second novel, Want Not, Miles takes a giant leap forward with this highly inventive and corrosively funny story of our times, a three-pronged tale of human excess that sifts through the detritus of several disparate lives—lost loves, blown chances, countless words and deeds misdirected or misunderstood—all conjoined in their come-hell-or-high-water search for fulfillment.
As the novel opens on Thanksgiving Day, readers are telescoped into three different worlds in various states of disrepair—a young freegan couple living off the grid in New York City; a once-prominent linguist, sacked at midlife by the dissolution of his marriage and his fathers losing battle with Alzheimers; and a self-made debt-collecting magnate, whose brute talent for squeezing money out of unlikely places has yielded him a royal existence, trophy wife included.
Want and desire propel these characters forward toward something, anything, more, until their worlds collide, briefly, randomly, yet irrevocably, in a shattering ending that will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.
With a satirists eye and a romantics heart, Miles captures the morass and comedy of contemporary life in all its excess. Bold, unblinking, unforgettable in its irony and pathos, Want Not is a wicked, bighearted literary novel that confirms the arrival of a major voice in American fiction.
A tense Western and an assured debut, Black River tells the story of a man marked by a prison riot as he returns to the town, and the convict, who shaped him.
When Wes Carver returns to Black River, he carries two things in the cab of his truck: his wife’s ashes and a letter from the prison parole board. The convict who held him hostage during a riot, twenty years ago, is being considered for release.
Wes has been away from Black River ever since the riot. He grew up in this small Montana town, encircled by mountains, and, like his father before him and most of the men there, he made his living as a Corrections Officer. A talented, natural fiddler, he found solace and joy in his music. But during that riot Bobby Williams changed everything for Wes — undermining his faith and taking away his ability to play.
How can a man who once embodied evil ever come to good? How can he pay for such crimes with anything but his life? As Wes considers his own choices and grieves for all he’s lost, he must decide what he believes and whether he can let Williams walk away.
With spare prose and stunning detail, S. M. Hulse drops us deep into the heart and darkness of an American town.
About the Author
Tom Franklin is the author of Poachers: Stories and Hell at the Breech. Winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches in the University of Mississippi's MFA program and lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their children, Claire and Thomas.
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