Cayed farm houses and trailers lived like Donald Trump compared to the backwoods clan of hill folk in this bookRee Dolly is a 16 year old girl who dropped out of high school to take care of her crazy mother and two younger brothers She lives in a remote part of the Ozarks where the only ob opportunities are in crystal meth production Ree plans on oining the army the second she s old enough and she s trying to prepare her brothers to take care of themselves once she leaves Ree s father Jessup hasn t been home in weeks but that s nothing new so she isn t concerned until a deputy shows up looking for him Ree is shocked to learn that Jessup is out on bond and used their house as collateral If he doesn t show for his court date in a few days Ree and her family will be homeless during a harsh winter Ree has no choice but to start asking her extended family if they know where her father is but this is dangerous because the closed mouth rednecks don t like people asking uestions even if they re kin The only one who even kinda helps her is her crazy Uncle Teardrop who got half his head melted in a meth lab fire and he s not exactly reliable Ree will soon figure out that her daddy got himself into big trouble with the family and looking for him will bring of the same to herDaniel Woodrell created a stark portrait of rural poverty where shooting suirrels for supper and chopping wood for heat are still routine chores Then he put a character you can t help but love in the middle of it Ree is smart and tough but even rarer in her world she s managed to hang on to a sense of dignity She has no illusions but she isn t cynical or cold either She s doing everything she can to protect her brothers and mother and she has a touching relationship with her best friend Gail who got pregnant and married a man she barely knowsShort but powerful this a terrific novel with a heroine you won t forget The movie is not without charm but doesn t come close to capturing the full scope of the novel s bleak beauty Family dynamics an integral piece of the story seem only hinted at on film The movie s stark frost bitten setting is represented only by bare branches and ski caps In the book you actually feel the wind chill and every degree below freezing Most shockingly the movie doesn t feature a single fluff of snowThen there s the prose No movie in the world can capture the perfection of Woodrell s writing The words breathe life into hick characters far better than any Oscar winning performance We experience their thoughts their desires their unexpected prowess over language and internal articulation that are hidden subtextually in dialogue It s practically Shakespearean how expertly Woodrell portrays low class characters with high class depth They are significantly deeper than backwoods hillbillies who cook crank but you wouldn t know that from the movie When you look at this story visually there s only flat stereotype It s the heart underneath that makes it come aliveFinally I ll also praise Woodrell s brevity At a mere 200 pages he delivers page turning thrills with chiseled priorities He characterizes his cast ust enough so they leap off the page he describes setting ust enough so you feel you re there No no less The surrounding mystery is introduced early and effectively carries the plot to its impeccable climax I haven t read by Woodrell to know if he s consistently this good but even so Winter s Bone truly catches lightning in a bottle Reading this book made me realize how FRIGGIN SHELTERED my life has been To me Winter s Bone reads ust like a nightmarish dystopia To millions of people apparently it s life Ree Dolly is incredibly tough and hardened by life much than you d expect from a sixteen year old girl She could be beat with a garden rake and never cry and had proved that twice before Mamaw saw an unsmiling angel pointing from the treetops at dusk and uit the bottle She would never cry where her tears might be seen and counted against her Unlike other lauded tough heroines in the recent literature her toughness is not in the leave me the hell alone variety of Lisbeth Salander or grumpy variety of Katniss Everdeen Ree is tough in the true survivor way She has no other choice she is the oldest child in the Ozarks bred n buttered family of a crystal meth cook father and a mentally unstable near catatonic mother with nobody else to care for her two younger brothers And now she is this close to losing the only thing they own their home to the bail bondsman unless Ree can somehow prove that her allegedly bail umping father is dead And that s not an easy thing to do when the world would rather have you shut up and not ask uestions Whatever are we to do about you baby girl Huh Kill me I guess That idea has been said already Got ny other ones Help me Ain t nobody said that idea yet have they But this short novel is not as much about Ree s uest to figure out what happened to her missing father she and the reader already have a good idea what happened to Jessup
DOLLY AS IT IS ABOUT SHOWING A FASCINATING ALBEIT as it is about showing a fascinating albeit picture of the cruel backwards meth ruled world of the Ozarks Ree Dolly lives in a hostile harsh and unforgiving world that follows no law but its own She is surrounded by distant kin members that make up the majority of this rural mountain community But very soon she learns that blood ties do not always mean much that there uite a few matters about which her neighbors and relatives would much rather remain tight lipped And they will not hesitate to do whatever they feel is necessary to silence the uncomfortable uestions even if they come f yesthis is pretty much why i read to find a book like this amongst all the three star so so s and it wasn t love at first sight which might make the experience even better i didn t love winesberg ohio right out of the gate either i had some reservations from the first page when the poetic uality of the language seemed forced and i wasn t going to deal with 200 pages of three halt haggard houses formed a kneeling rank on the far creekside or Ree brunette and sixteen with milk skin and abrupt green eyes but except for a few instances of striving to be musical prose heidi klum would say we uestion your taste level and brad becker would say i ll taste her level this is utterly gorgeous and is already on my mental hall of fame listof course it brings up a list of names in my head they are unavoidable comparisons ron rash cormac mccarthy castle "freeman r people who write about misbegotten people deep in the hard lined appalachianozark regions without romanticizing "jr people who write about misbegotten people deep in the hard lined appalachianozark regions without romanticizing harsh realities of survival but it s than that woodrell has created a sort of ozarkian godfather story with its unspoken rules about loyalty and power and family above all else where people live and die by deeply embedded codes of honor even the supporting characters here speak volumes and any one of them could stand alone in their own novelbut the action centers around sixteen year old ree she of the milk skin and this character is i think what everyone is thinking they have found in that dragon tattooed salander who i found cartoonish ree is a sixteen year old girl who is genuinely hard not ust clinically affectless she is resourceful but not god help us plucky she is pissed off but not in an anarchic teenaged way she is no wide eyed innocent but she isn t psychotic she is no wide eyed innocent but she isn t psychotic she s ust a human surviving within her inherited power system raising her two little brothers and caring for her mad mother sacrificing her love and dignity without regret but with necessary resignation yet she does show emotion even though it is a luxury in her situation every scene she has with gail is understated but packs an emotional wallop yeah i know i hate that expression and i m not sure why i used it blame the heatthis is no morality tale it is Tattoo a Banana: And Other Ways to Turn Anything and Everything Into Art just a slice of a life that is happening unsung in america it s too short a book for me to say much about without rooning it for everyone but i loved it like crazy and will have to get all his other out of print books into my handscome to my blog. Who has grown up in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks learns uickly that asking uestions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake She perseveres past obstacles of every kind and finally confronts the top figures in the family's hierarchyAlong the way to a shocking revelation Ree discovers unexpected depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any co. En reading instead of attempting to read Where the Crawdads Sing It s far compelling and gritty It s a harsh survival story in which a tough teenage girl but realistically so no cardboard cutouts here attempts to find out why her father is missing and skipped bail before her family loses their homeI loved Ree Dolly She s tough hardened by the harsh realities of life in poverty but not cold and aloof because of it The warmth of her love for her brothers and her friend Gail cuts through the chill of the novel She sets out to talk to higher members of the Dolly clan but blood or not this is a dangerous task Someone knows what happened to her father and it seems they want it to stay hiddenIt s far survival than it is mystery though This rural backcountry is rife with meth addiction alcoholism and poverty There are people willing to hurt others to keep their own secrets Andust living day by day is hardIt is sometimes amazing what an author can pack into less than two hundred pagesFacebook Instagram My introduction to the fiction of Daniel Woodrell is Winter s Bone and what a strong introduction Published in 2006 it logs somewhere between a novella and short novel at only 45883 words but the remnants left behind conjure such a strong sense of environment and of a gritty female protagonist struggling to survive in that environment that I felt like I d walked a mile in her shoes in the snow trucking water pails both ways The literary ambitions of the novel are impossible to tamper down but rather than overwhelm the story or characters the prose brings them into the light with both menace and wonderSet in Missouri in the Rathlin Valley near the Arkansas state line the story introduces sixteen year old Ree Dolly as her father Jessup a gifted meth cook out on bond from his latest arrest leaves home never to return Ree assumes responsibility for what remains of the family a scrappy ten year old half brother named Sonny a sensitive eight year old brother named Harold and their mother Connie an able bodied invalid who s retreated into the world of her mind casually referred to as crazy by the two hundred or so Dollys Lockrums Boshells Tankerslys and Langans linked by blood or marriage and living in poverty within thirty miles of the valleyA sheriff s deputy named Baskin pays a visit to Ree delivering the boys from the spot where the school bus was halted by snow Talking to John Law can be hazardous to one s health in the valley but rather than ask Ree where her father has run off to the deputy brings news that Ree s daddy put their ancestral home on Mom s side the Bromont side as well as their timber acres up as collateral for his bond If Jessup Dolly fails to turn up for his court date next week the property will be sold by the county Ree maintains her composure and assures Baskin that she ll find her father She d start with Uncle Teardrop though Uncle Teardrop scared her He lived three miles down the creek but she walked on the railroad tracks Snow covered the tracks and made humps over the rails and the twin humps guided her She broke her own trail through the snow and booted the miles from her path The morning sky was gray and crouching the wind had snap and drew water to her eyes She wore a green hooded sweatshirt and Mamaw s black coat Ree nearly always wore a dress or skirt but with combat boots and the skirt this day was bluish plaid Her knees kicked free of the plaid when she threw her long legs forward and stomped the snowRee finds a sympathetic ear with her aunt Victoria her favorite of all Dolly women short of Mom but is told in no uncertain terms by her menacing uncle not to go looking for her father Uncle Teardrop has been a meth cook longer than his younger brother but lost his ear and melted the left side of his back in a chemical mishap Ignoring her uncle s warning Ree proposes going to Hawkfall Valley to see if the crew her father was working with know something but has her head yanked back by her uncle for emphasis He gives his niece fifty dollars and another warning for Ree to stay close to the willowsClimbing a ridge and crossing a meadow blanketed by snow Ree arrives at the home of her best friend Gail Lockrum who already has a four month old baby and a useless husband who d rather be with his girlfriend Ree recalls her father s girlfriend a kindy garden teacher in town and asks Gail if she can get the keys to her husband s truck to drive her there The answer is no Ree hitches a ride with the school bus driver and is dropped off in Hawkfall The way people aren t talking to Ree convinces her that her father has been killed and no one wants to talk to her about itRee is left with no alternative but to seek the help of Thump Milton a Milton family patriarch and a terrifying grizzled coot Ree waits in his yard for an hour before being turned out notified by his wife that he knows everywhere Ree has been today and why she s here and to leave Ree who s talked about leaving the willows to oin the army one day receives an offer from Sonny s rapscallion father to take the boy in with Uncle Teardrop taking Harold Seeing no future for either of her brothers by abandoning them Ree puts her life in Thump Milton s hands by returning to Hawkfall for another try at him Ree has to be carried out The women of Rathlin Valley began crossing the creek to view her even as she lay in the tub Sonya led Betsy and Caradoc Dolly s widow Permelia who owned the third house in the rank of three on the far bank into the bathroom and closed the door on the paled waiting boys with their stricken faces Ree lay with her good eye open a peep in water skimmed thinly with suds The women stood in a cluster looking down at the colored bruises on milk skin the lumped eye the broken mouth Their lips were tight and they shook their heads Permelia
Ancient But Mobile Witness but mobile witness a hundred wounds said There s never no call to do a girl like thatWord for word Winter s Bone may be one of the finest novels that I ve read There s a harrowing precision to it Woodrell has such a command of this landscape and the family trees populating it that he could ve written a novel three or four times the length of this one I m glad he didn t There isn t an indulgence to be found here Instead of telling reader about what happened #to characters or occurred between them in the past he focuses on #characters or occurred between them in the past he focuses on they re feeling now There s some trust there but the prose is also strong enough to fill in those spaces Then there s Ree Dolly who Woodrell seems to respect enough to make the star attraction of every page While frosty bits gathered in her hair and on her shoulders she raised the volume of those ocean sounds Ree needed often to inject herself with pleasant sounds stab those sounds past the constant screeching sualling hubbub regular life raised inside her spirit poke those soothing sounds past that racket and down deep where her ittering soul paced on a stone slab on a gray room agitated and endlessly provoked but yearning to hear something that might bring a moment s rest The tapes had been given to Mom who already heard too many puzzling sounds AND DID NOT CARE TO CONFRONT THESE BUT REE did not care to confront these but Ree them and felt something unknot She also favored The Sounds of Tranuil Streams The Sounds of Tropical Dawn and Alpine DuskThe novels I read I don t know if what marks a great character is an arc but consistency Ree is a rock that forces the stream around her to change course not the other way around She s kin to Mattie Ross of True Grit also a teenager in making up her mind and sticking to it The forces that Woodrell puts in Ree s path are formidable and her vulnerability is palpable The inner fortitude of the character and her extreme disorientation at changes taking place around her weren t entirely translated to screen with Debra Granik adapting and directing a solid film version in 2010 that introduced audiences to Jennifer Lawrence and made her a star The novel is a better movie I grew up in a rural area with no shortage of poor rednecks so I thought I knew about country poverty but the people I knew with their de. Life in Rathlin Valley But the house is all they have and Ree's father would never forfeit it to the bond company unless something awful happened With two young brothers depending on her and a mother who's entered a kind of second childhood Ree knows she has to bring her father back dead or alive or else see her family turned out into the unforgiving coldSixteen year old Ree. ,
Gets so close to a fourth star it can smell the new paint The Protestant Temperament job In fact the plot is totally 5 star the motivations and machinations of all the characters make complete sense and are a real heartbreaker The main character 16 year old Posted at Shelf Inflicted This short novel has many things I enjoy in dark fiction uirky dysfunctional characters a determined heroine struggling to survive and keep her family together a bleak setting a sense of hopelessness people who pay the price for their bad choices This is a uiet story that crept up on me slowly and haunted me for days afterward Actually it terrified me and made me glad I grew up in New York City Sure there were shootings muggings carjackings and stabbings Youust had to watch your back constantly and try to stay out of the dangerous neighborhoods Once I was home and the six deadbolts locked I felt safe 16 year old Ree Dolly has no sense of safety Her mother is mentally ill and unable to care for her children her dad has disappeared her relatives are downright scary and meth is a major source of the family s income I have never been to the Ozarks and have no idea how accurately this story portrays the region and its inhabitants though I m sure these characters really exist somewhere What keeps me from giving a five star rating is the prose At times it felt overwritten taking me out of the story I also felt it was too brief making the characters and relationships too remote In the end I wanted than an empty hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach An Angry CountryIt s difficult to imagine what encouraged the first English settlers to re locate from their lives of drudgery in the Appalachian mountains to precisely the same lives of drudgery a thousand miles distant in the Ozark hills mountains being a mere conceit But move they did with their traditions of inbreeding moonshine and frontier violence The Ozarks strectching over the corners of four US States is a sort of American Kurdistan an artificially divided country The tourist brochures now describe the Ozarks as uaint But this is a description that is apt neither for the gauche theme parks that celebrate an idyllic but fictional pioneer past nor for the meth labs that have sprung up to replace the corn whiskey stills In Winter s Bone this is a lost country pointing simultaneously to the origins of the real America and a not unlikely futureWoodrell describes a world of neo liberal personal independence every man for himself and God help the sap who asks for help a real Jeffersonian agricultural democracy The only significance of family relationship is that one isn t shot on sight This is a world of hyper misogyny permanently incipient violence and drugs lots of drugs as the primary cottage industry Made in America has taken on a new significance The pioneer spirit is alive and well everyone else is a threat to personal independence the greatest threat is law which is a blatant attempt to constrain individual freedoms Male bonding is proportionate to the freuency of oint illegal ventures Contract in the form of adherence to the code is King penalties for non performance are steep Women of course only have the freedom to obey they exist is a parallel universe of silent fear maintaining what little social cohesion there is Men don t speak to them at all except to command they have no capacity to make contracts so they cajole and manipulate on the peripheryExcept for the iPods and the occasional paved road things haven t changed much in Woodrell s Ozarkian culture over the last two hundred years Same families same feuds same primitive responses to events usually violent The dialogue captures the mood as well as the s You ain t here for trouble are you Cause one of my nephews is Buster Leroy and didn t he shoot your daddy one time Yes m but that ain t got nothin to do with me They settled all that theirselves I think Shootin him likely settled it What is it you want The central social principle is staying off the grid in order to be left alone No one has a right to interrupt a man s nap or his cooking of crank If there s no paper trail you don t exist And if you don t exist it s really difficult to find you much less prosecute you So the details of births are undocumented and there are only a few male names prefaced are undocumented and there are only a few male names prefaced uniue nicknames known only in the community Thump Milton Cotton Milton Whoop Milton and Blond Milton all of the family Dolly to name only a few It s easier to lose oneself that way Identity after all is a sacred concept so must be protected against intrusion and pollution by foreignersCultural isolation has generated a uniue mystical tradition of origin that there existed a pure culture that has been lost in mysterious circumstances The original settlers from Appalachia the founding fathers have been transformed into prophetic messengers proclaiming a new religion The core of this religion is anger towards a hostile world The reasons for the anger have been forgotten except in the myths of origin as a lack of faithfulness to tradition The only real evidence of the past is the rubble left by previous generations building stones strewn about ruined hillsidesAnger in this culture has become virtually a genetic trait passed down as a legacy Without it the natives have nothing in common nothing to strive for The anger is ultimately directed not at others but toward themselves however You got to be ready to die every day then you got a chance They hate themselves Perhaps that s why the migrated in the first place The purpose of the drugs is not economic their function is self forgetting The rest of the world is relevant only because it threatens the expression of their self directed rageA symbolic microcosm of America in the age of TrumpPostscript 26Nov18 29Nov18 a little Ozark nostalgia In this crime thriller set in the Ozarks 16 year old Ree Dolly goes on a manhunt to locate her meth cooking father dead or alive She needs to find him because he put their house up for collateral with the bailbondsmen and he s due in court soon The Ozark atmosphere is convincing Woodrell s prose is spare and poetic and most important of all Ree Dolly is a great person to get to know I half hope and half dread that this may be the first in a series I want to hear of Ree but I enjoyed this book so much I don t want an inferior seuel to spoil my experience Houses above looked caught on the scraggly hillsides like crumbs in a beard and apt to fall as suddenly They d been there two or three lifetimes though and cascades of snow mushes of rain and huffing spring wind had tried though and cascades of snow mushes of rain and huffing spring wind had tried knock them loose and send them tumbling but never did There were narrow footpaths wending all about the slopes between the trees along the rock ledges from house to house and in better weather Ree thought Hawkfall looked sort of enchanted if a place could be enchanted but not too friendly No idea why I waited than ten years to read this powerful little bookIn Winter s Bone the setting is its own character This icy rural universe in the Ozarks comes to life on the page a living breathing violent thing where snow and cold are as big a danger as the criminals and meth cooks who populate this isolated place Wuthering Heights one of my favourite books of all time uses its setting in a similar way Creating a place that feels separate from the rest of humanity and allowing the characters to exist and interact in this bubble wild and living by their own rules I personally find it extremely effectiveIn some ways it makes this Southern Gothic read like a fairy tale It truly feels like a separate universe there s no contemporary references no mention of US politics or pop culture the characters exist in a world of their own And in this world the Dolly family old blood have their own mythos The big man and prophet who d found messages from the Fist of Gods written on the entrails of a sparkling golden fish lured with prayer from a black river way east near the sea was Haslam Fruit of Belief The story itself is a bit of True Grit a bit of McCarthy and O Connor and it occurred to me what I should have be. The sheriff's deputy at the front door brings hard news to Ree Dolly Her father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court dateRee's father has disappeared before The Dolly clan has worked the shadowy side of the law for generations and arrests and attempts to avoid them are part of.