Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book #69: Hell at the Breech

Hell at the Breech: A NovelTitle: Hell at the Breech
Author: Tom Franklin

I enjoyed Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter so much that I came home from vacation and ordered Hell at the Breech right away. I knew from the book jacket of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter that it was a departure from Franklin's earlier work, but I was surprised by how dark and twisty Hell at the Breech was (it makes the dark and twisty of Grey's Anatomy look like a ride on "It's a Small World").

So what's the story about? I'm still trying to figure it out, I guess. It starts out with two dumb brothers playing bandits on a road in Alabama in 1897, hoping to get a buck off some guy to visit the town whore. When they stop a man, they accidentally shoot him. Then all hell breaks loose. His cousin assembles a group of poor sharecroppers to avenge the death, and what happens is that lots and lots (and lots and lots) of people get killed. The every character in the book is morally complicated (even the ones who don't appear to be at first), and the prose is beautiful (Franklin thanks his poet wife in the credits for working on the prose with him, and their attention to detail shows on every page). While readers have compared the book to works of Faulkner (probably because of the setting and the fact that the characters are all so difficult), but the book reminded me more of The Road, since so much of the book takes place on the backcountry roads at night, and the characters never know if they'll come across someone who wants to kill them (they usually do). It was a well-written book, but a tough book to read. I feel like I need to go watch a romantic comedy or read something by Sophie Kinsella to regain my equilibrium.

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