Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
William Morrow • $24.99 • ISBN 9780060594664
On sale October 5, 2010
Edgar Award-winning author and Ole Miss creative writing professor Tom Franklin has been compared to Faulkner, Harper Lee and Flannery O’Connor, and it seems like everywhere I turn, booksellers, bloggers and reviewers are recommending his newest novel. So I picked up Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (named for the Mississippi spelling rhyme, “M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter . . .”) with great anticipation—not least of all because Franklin is paying BookPage a visit on Friday while he’s in town for the Southern Festival of Books. (Look for an interview on our YouTube channel next week.)
The story takes place in a run-down town in rural Mississippi, where a couple of men cross paths again after a brief childhood friendship 20 years in the past. One, Silas Jones, is a black cop. The other, Larry Ott, is white and a creepy loner who loves horror novels. He’s also suspected of playing a part in the disappearance of a young woman.
I won’t give away more details other than to say that this is a book about secrets, regret, friendship, decay. Franklin’s writing is often described as “atmospheric,” and that style is absolutely displayed in Crooked Letter. BookPage has praised Franklin’s “mastery of evocative language” and “taut and beautiful” prose, and I think you’ll find that’s the case in this excerpt. (If only I could excerpt more! I think you’ll just have to read the book yourself.)
Though Larry’s shop was on the outskirts of Fulsom, he lived near the community of Amos, just within Silas’s jurisdiction. People from larger towns always thought Chabot was small, but it was a metropolis compared to Amos, Mississippi, which used to have a store but even that was closed now. A few paved roads and a lot of dirt ones, a land of sewer ditches and gullies stripped of their timber and houses and single-wides speckled back in the clear-cut like moles revealed by a haircut. The train from Meridian used to stop there, but now it just rattled and clanged on past. Amos’s population had fallen in the last dozen years, and most people remaining were black folks who lived along Dump Road. Silas’s mother had lived there, too, for a while, in the trailer the bank had repossessed. These days the population had declined to eighty-six.
He thought of M&M. Eighty-five.
What are you reading today? Will you check out Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter?