Kindling Winter’s Bone

I’ve been re-reading Daniel Woodrell’s novel, Winter’s Bone using the ipad’s Kindle app. I just discovered that I can get at my margin notes online, which is pretty damn cool. So here’s an indirect review of the novel, at least the parts I’ve finished. If I seem catty about dialect, it’s because 1> I’m from the Ozarks, and 2> I’m writing myself, so I’m in a frame of mind where I’m thinking a lot about the nuts and bolts of things and anxious to avoid missteps.

the arms and shoulders, a body made for loping after needs. Note: Well done, sir

smoked by beard, eyes uncertain and alarmed by each walnut thump. Note: Again, the walnuts in the previous sentence were flawless. Let them lie.

danced barefoot across this tangled country of Ozark hills and hollers. Note: Okay that’s just stupid. What is this, 1830? The Shepherd of the fucking hills?

mind broke and the parts scattered and she let them go. Note: This is in modern idiom. The previous sentence was minstrel show.

age twelve, dulled to life, empty of kindness, boiling with mean. Note: That was a fine sentence even if it was in a regional idiom. Unlike the barefoot lass in the hollers, it’s not a cliche.

ground, dragged a sleeve across her face, swung the ax again. Note: Pitch perfect

with a gun and they made everybody help keep things clean. Note: "the US Army, where you got to travel with a gun and they made everybody help keep things clean." Damn

who still looked good to plenty of gals in these hills Note: "plenty of gals in these hills"? Give me a fucking break

“Oh, boy, oh, boy.” Ree saw four days inside that box. Note: It’s my understanding that Woodrell knows what it is to go hungry.

Victoria had once been number three and was now number five. Note: When he’s on, he’s really on. That’s what makes the occasional adjectival overkill so discordant. And even if people from here might actually say things that sound like a stock hillbilly character in a Branson music show, he fails to make it convincing, to make me believe that anyone actually talks this way.

generally tried to sit with his melted side to the wall. Note: Two perfect sentences.

cry where her tears might be seen and counted against her. Note: Reverses Teardrop’s always-visible and always-crying tattoos.

like a serpent down a hole, made her feel his slither Note: I wish that he’d stopped the sentence right at "slither."

nights of running wild or time in the pen, cooking moon Note: I like now it sets up a parallel between meth & moonshine, though I think it only works in terms of a tradition of a community, or at least a gathering, around a covert activity. Actually I wonder if Scots smuggling whiskey past the English doesn’t precede moonshine.

rip it bloody, chew the tasty parts, let the bones drop. Note: Hawksfall indeed.

at but she had sweet fat ways and a steady paycheck. Note: "sweet fat ways and a steady paycheck" that’s damn good

old, and a new look of baffled hurt, a left-behind sadness, Note: Nice description of the shock of the new parent

door seemed stuck by ice and had to be bullied open, Note: I so enjoy bullying a door now and then. I ought to feel guilty, but I don’t.

been born bawling for but might never be able to name Note: I wish he’d stopped with "might never be able to name." It’s like he feels the need to cut his prose’s harsh clarity with the occasional dash of cornpone.

dreamy or some such. Sandy hair, blue eyes, put together strong, Note: "put together strong" works because it’s fresh and unexpected as well as being idiomatic. "Steady in love" and "old man" anybody sound like a bad parody, so stale that they’re dripping with mold.

freckles. Her long hair fell straight and was of a ruddled Note: Ruddled. Thank you, DW, for introducing me to this word.

pregnant until her seventh month. She never did get waddling pregnant Note: Waddling pregnant. I like that a lot.

of race cars shiny inside shrinkwrap were taped to the walls. Note: The shrink-wrap still on the posters is a nice, and convincing, detail.

drops burrowed into the snow and left jaundiced dots and scrawls. Note: I like the way this is described, but why would he go outside to piss in the winter? Men piss off the deck in the summer because they’re too lazy to go inside to the toilet. They don’t walk past the toilet to go outside and piss in the winter. You have to give us a plausible reason why he’s out there.

and pine scent and that pious shade and silence pines create. Note: "that pious shade and silence pines create" is so on the mark.

there until the big thinking rock made her butt too cold.  Note: A perfect chapter.

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