Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell is a poetic novella set in the Ozarks – the impoverished and (in this book) icily cold mountain region of Missouri and Arkansas. Ree Dolly is a 16-year-old member of one of the clannish and impoverished families of the area, and the book describes her Homeric search for her missing father, who has put up the family house as security against a court appearance. The privations experienced by Ree as she pursues her apparently hopeless quest, against a background of trying to keep her small family together, are horrific. The hideous ramifications of “crank” (methamphetamine) production, the modern moonshine, are so intensely conveyed that I sometimes could barely read on. Yet the book is not gratuitous – rather I kept wondering why Ree let herself suffer so. We know she dreams of joining the US Army, but why does she stay in this closed community – closed to the assistance of education, medicine and the law? I was answered by the end of the book, when Ree’s Greek tragedy is played out: like Frodo, she has played by the only rules that can matter for her, and she receives her reward. A desperately sad book, brilliantly conveying the histories and culture of these people, and one that won’t leave you in a hurry.

(First published as part of a composite book review on 16 September 2007).

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This entry was posted in Books, Crime fiction, Mystery, Noir, Social comment, USA. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

  1. Pingback: From the Web 2-9 March | Petrona

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