Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tired, cranky and running out of time

Still tired

On Monday night I went to the footy.  My team won and it was heaps of fun but Monday night footy is seriously the worst ever.  It took so long for Sam to get home from work and drive to the city that we missed the start of the game. We didn’t get home until after 11 and I was so hyped up with adrenalin from the win that I couldn’t get to sleep until 2am. I don’t mind if the crapness of Monday night games was shared amongst all of the teams but it’s St Kilda home games every year. Dear AFL, please stop the Monday games or share them around!

A review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Macmillan, 2011)

Writing this I have realised that it’s a lot easier to write a negative review than it is to write a positive one. Is that human nature in that it’s easier to criticise than commend or is it an indictment of my character? Either way, it’s not a very good thing! I’m definitely going to try to get more positive reviews out there now.

The crooked letter in the title is from the method used to teach southern children how to spell ‘Mississippi’ – “M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I”. Honestly, I can’t see how that is any easier than just remembering how to spell the word but I never used the rabbit-hole rhyme to help me tie my shoes, so I’m clearly not a good candidate to judge the appropriateness of memory games for children. Anyway, the title is very appropriate for this very southern book, which is set in Chabot, Mississippi, a small town that has been decimated by development and the passing of time. The story begins with the shooting of Larry Ott, a lonely and alone man who drifts through life, not engaging with anyone other than his chickens and his elderly mother, who has Alzheimer’s and is living in a home. Ott is shunned by society due to his association with the disappearance of a young girl 25 years ago and the recent disappearance of another young woman has refocused the attention of the town on him. Silas ‘32’ Jones is the sole law enforcement officer of Chabot and, like Larry, he is isolated, although not alone. Although he is not investigating Ott’s shooting, a link is established between Ott and Silas that has effects that reverberate through the rest of the story.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is told largely in flashbacks and the themes of isolation and loneliness are explored as the deeper-than-expected connections between Larry and Silas are brought to light. There is an excellent sense of place in this novel and, as is expected in a book about the American south, race also plays a role. When I read books that are very American and deal with very specific American issues like Walmart culture and the racial tensions and in the south I often feel like I am missing some of the references that an American reader would get, but even with a fairly considerable cultural difference this book was completely accessible. It’s classified as a thriller but it’s not particularly thrilling – while it’s clear who the murderer is about two-thirds of the way through the book, the book isn’t about the murder as much as it is about blame and guilt and separation. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it as literary fiction rather than a murder-mystery. Four out of five stars.

A deadline

It’s Sam’s birthday in one week’s time and this is all I have done on his socks.

I have a heel, a sole and a toe still to go and I don’t think I’m going to make it!  Less blogging and more knitting certainly required to get this job done…


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