The intention was to write something completely different. Until, that is, I picked up Tom Franklin’s fascinating book ‘CROOKED LETTER.’ I’m only on page 47, but just had to pause and sing its praises.
Like any other keen writer/reader, I’m always on the look-out for originality, and get excited when I come across it. And whether his book is to your taste or not, for mine, Franklin has it framed. Set in Mississippi, it immediately conjures up Southern Gothic; fly-swatting, hot and ominous afternoons… Morally complex, it is superbly crafted and covers the unlikely friendship (later broken) of two, boyhood friends: Larry Ott and Silas Jones, the first a product of lower middle-class white parents, the latter the offspring of a black, poor and single woman.
The story pivots around the disappearance of two girls. It has a great sense of place and atmosphere, beautifully and realistically described, but what further plucks it from the banal and ‘quite good’ is the clever way the author tells his readers something revealing – to a point – and then leaves them frowning and wondering…Take his opening paragraph (us writers are continually being told how important they are!):-
“THE RUTHERFORD GIRL HAD BEEN MISSING FOR EIGHT DAYS WHEN LARRY OTT RETURNED HOME AND FOUND A MONSTER WAITING IN HIS HOUSE.” (?) He then goes on to tell you about his family and where he lives, and it’s some time before you discover who or what the monster is. Clever stuff! You read on, intrigued and eager…What a different twist to an opening! It’s already captured my imagination and inspired me to write a totally different short story.
I’m told the rest of the book is also ‘profound; moving and the dialogue is wickedly funny,’ so excuse me – I’m off to explore…
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Ideal reading for beach holidays…
‘Hey! Zeus!’ short story.
Vol.1 ‘The Great Big Spanish Adventure’
Vol.2 ‘The Next Big Spanish Adventure’