Daniel Woodrell is one of those authors who other authors admire. With deft characterization and poetic phrasing, he takes an unblinking look at those living on The Ozarks’ rough edges. He practically invented the rural noir genre.
When the public caught up with him after the film adaptation of Winter’s Bone was released, they found few of his books in print. Now, Back Bay Books is bringing them all back in beautiful trade paperback copies with forwards by authors like Megan Abbott and Dennis Lehane.
The first two that have released, Tomato Red and The Death Of Sweet Mister, are vintage Woodrell. Tomato Red, about a red neck ne’er do well’s tragic falling in with an Ozark family, has one of the best first sentences, first paragraphs, and first pages ever written; in fact, they’re all one and the same. It is possibly his funniest book. His darkest is The Death Of Sweet Mister, following a young boy and his relationship with his mother and her criminal boyfriend. Woodrell said he wrote it to see where mass murderers come from.
In June, Woodrell’s moving account of the Missouri-Kansas Border Wars, Woe To Live on will be available, as well as Give Us A Kiss, the book that coined the term “country noir”. After that, we wait for his next new book.