Jack Fischer, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Jack Fischer)
Daniel Woodrell is, indeed, as several others have said, the best unknown writer working in America right now. He's pigeon-holed as a crime writer and is credited with creating something he calls "country-noir" for his tales set in his home of the Ozark Mountains in Southern Missouri. But with the richness of his writing, his ear for regional and class-aware dialogue and his sense of humor, he deserves the comparisions people are making to Flannery O'Connor and Faulkner. Winter's Bone, the tale of a young girl searching for her disappeared meth-cooking dad so she can save the family homestead, is brilliantly rendered.
Larry Robinson, March 23, 2010 (view all comments by Larry Robinson)
Southern Noir. Seventeen year old Rees Dolly does her best to take care of the mentally ill mother and her two little brothers. It's not easy when your meth cooking/dealing daddy has disappeared and the bail bondsman is about to take your home. In an attempt to save the house, Rees sets out to find her daddy. Though her extended family does everything they can to stop her, she perseveres. If you like your stories dark and incestuous, this one's for you. This is a good example of Daniel Woodrell's work.
Back Bay Books -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Woodrell flirts with — but doesn't succumb to — cliche in his eighth novel, a luminescent portrait of the poor and desperate South that drafts 16-year-old Ree Dolly, blessed with 'abrupt green eyes,' as its unlikely heroine. Ree, too young to escape the Ozarks by joining the army, cares for her two younger brothers and mentally ill mother after her methamphetamine-cooking father, Jessup, disappears. Recently arrested on drug charges, Jessup bonded out of jail by using the family home as collateral, but with a court date set in one week's time and Jessup nowhere to be found, Ree has to find him — dead or alive — or the house will be repossessed. At its best, the novel captures the near-religious criminal mania pervasive in rural communities steeped in drug culture. Woodrell's prose, lyrical as often as dialogic, creates an unwieldy but alluring narrative that allows him to draw moments of unexpected tenderness from predictable scripts: from Ree's fearsome, criminal uncle Teardrop, Ree discovers the unshakable strength of family loyalty; from her friend Gail and her woefully dependant siblings, Ree learns that a faith in kinship can blossom in the face of a bleak and flawed existence." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Library Journal,
"[B]oth razor sharp and grimly gorgeous."
"Despite the questionable ending, some teens will be drawn into Ree's story. But the book is not for the young or the faint-of-heart; Ree is not a saint, and this gritty story requires maturity to appreciate."
by School Library Journal,
"A compelling testament to how people survive in the worst of circumstances."
by Seattle Times,
"[C]ompact, atmospheric and deeply felt....Woodrell's novels...tap a ferocious, ancient manner of storytelling, shrewdly combining a poet's vocabulary with the vivid, old-fashioned vernacular of the backwoods. They're forces of nature."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"[P]acks a kind of biblical, Old West, Cormac McCarthy wallop — hard and deep....To call Woodrell...the Next Big Thing in literary crime fiction only can mean this: We are way behind. He is the current big thing. And not to be missed."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Woodrell burrows ever deeper into the heart of Ozark darkness, weaving a tale both haunting in its simplicity and mythic in scope.... most profound and haunting work yet."
by David Bowman, The New York Times Book Review,
"[Woodrell's] Old Testament prose and blunt vision have a chilly timelessness that suggests this novel will speak to readers as long as there are readers, and as long as violence is practiced more often than hope or language."
by Kansas City Star,
"[A]nother stunner....Diehard fans of the author will not be disappointed with Winter's Bone. Those unacquainted with his work...are in for a unique reading experience that will doubtless send them scurrying off to find more of his novels."
When Ree Dollys father skips bail, the 16-year-old knows if he doesn't show up, her family will lose their home. Her goal had been to leave her life of poverty and join the Army, but first she must find her father, teach her little brothers to fend for themselves, and escape a downward spiral of misery.
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