Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter PDF/EPUB Ö Crooked


  • Hardcover
  • 274 pages
  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
  • Tom Franklin
  • English
  • 08 May 2019
  • 0060594667

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Crooked Letter, Crooked LetterTom Franklin s extraordinary talent has been hailed by the leading lights of contemporary literature Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Lee Smith, and Dennis Lebanese Reviewers have called his fiction ingenious USA Today and compulsively readable Memphis Commercial Appeal His narrative power and flair for characterization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O Connor, El Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy Now the Edgar Award winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi In the late s, Larry Ott and SilasJones were boyhood pals Their worlds were as different as night and day Larry, the child of lower middle class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond But then tragedy struck Larry took a girl on a date to a drive in movie, and she was never heard from again She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit The incident shook the county and perhaps Silas most of all His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left townMore than twenty years have passed Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion Silas has returned as a constable He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they ve buried and ignored for decades Worst first date ever Poor Larry Ott, the bookish kid, the weak one, a smallish white boy, the bully target at school, takes out the girl of his dreams, returns home alone, and gets blamed for her presumed rape and murder Decades later, ostracized by the town, living alone in the same house he grew up in, tending his late, abusive father s garage, another girl goes missing and all fingers point his way Did he or didn t he Tom Franklin image from The American Academy in BerlinBut Crooked L Worst first date ever Poor Larry Ott, the bookish kid, the weak one, a smallish white boy, the bully target at school, takes out the girl of his dreams, returns home alone, and gets blamed for her presumed rape and murder Decades later, ostracized by the town, living alone in the same house he grew up in, tending his late, abusive father s garage, another girl goes missing and all fingers point his way Did he or didn t he Tom Franklin image from The American Academy in BerlinBut Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells of two twisted lives As a kid, Silas came to town when his mother, Alice, had to flee a bad situation in Chicago He and Larry became friends But after high school, black baseball star Silas left for college, then stayed away until decades later when he returns, joining the local police department Why The book takes us back and forth between the present day, the investigation into the latest disappearance, and the story of Silas and Larry s ill fated friendship Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a tale of black and white told in shades of gray Franklin s main characters display human strengths and weaknesses He shows the racial environment and tension in 1970s Mississippi, reduced, but still far from dissipated today We see that people act on what they believe rather than on what they know Where does purity lie Truth Atonement Forgiveness Although Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter offers a piercing account of life in rural Mississippi it holds resonance beyond the time and place The sort of people who find Larry peculiar because he reads are the same ones who deny evolution, global warming or the holocaust The atmosphere of the place is very nicely drawn as history seeps from the past into the present in forms physical as well as psychic Too much looks the same as it did way back when, onlyeroded Franklin drew a lot on his own childhood Like Larry, his father was a mechanic he lived on the outskirts of a small southern town he was a bookish kid in a place where that was not a good thing to be he was a loner And while he was not so ostracized in real life as his stand in is in his novel, he knows of what he speaks Tom Franklin has written a very moving tale about being an outsider You will feel for LarryCrooked Letter Crooked Letter has received a flood of critical approval And there is a lot to like here, engaging characters, a good depiction of place and time, powerful imagery in the form of serpents and masks It seems like a sure thing And I did enjoy the book But the straight dope is that it did not do for me what it seems to have done for some other readers Franklin is clearly a very good writer, but is hardly the second coming of Faulkner Read, and enjoy, but keep your expectations grounded and you will not be disappointed A review of a later novel by Franklin, co authored with his wife, Beth Ann Fennelly, The Tilted World M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I How southern children are taught to spell Mississippi Tom FranklinMy wife s family is from Prentiss, Mississippi not far from where the action of this book takes place When my wife s grandmother died a few years ago we went down for the funeral This was my first time in Mississippi and I remember a couple of things about the experience First, this is small town USA and there were two funeral M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I How southern children are taught to spell Mississippi Tom FranklinMy wife s family is from Prentiss, Mississippi not far from where the action of this book takes place When my wife s grandmother died a few years ago we went down for the funeral This was my first time in Mississippi and I remember a couple of things about the experience First, this is small town USA and there were two funeral homes One for black people and one for white people When you ain t from around there you might accidently go to the wrong one.After the funeral we ended up back at grandmother s for a meal The women stayed out in the kitchen except for when they were bringingfood around or filling up my ice tea I swear my ice tea never gotthan inch down from the rim The men asked me questions One thing they were really concerned about was how the South was perceived by a Yankee such as myself I trotted out my bona fide that my gg grandfather Keeten was a Confederate soldier from Virginia To people in Mississippi Virginia is Northern, so that bought me barely a dollop of legitimacy My wife had warned me not to be outspoken politically These weren t blue dog Democrats, but deep red Mississippi mud Republicans, and so I skated over the issues that I knew would cause a ruckus They insisted to me how much Mississippi had changed, as if I were an ambassador from the North, and would go home and tell everyone that the South has become progressive I agree, no doubt, the South had progressed in the last 150 years The people were super Everyone I met was sincere and every sentence was scented with Southern charm, but two different funeral homes tells me that the South still has some wrinkles that need smoothed out I loved my time down there and can t wait to take a family vacation through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia I know, I know I m supposed to be writing a book review not reminiscing There is something about reading books set in the South that makes me want to tell stories In junior high I was the kid that ordered too many books from Scholastic I can still feel the shame reddening my neck and my cheeks as I walked up to the teacher s desk to get my book stack that was larger than the rest of the class put together I was only someone s best friend when they needed help with their homework So I did identify with the feelings of ostracization that Larry Ott was feeling in this novel I was undersized too, one of the smallest guys in my class I wore glasses and scurried around like a rabbit between classes Small towns are tough and small schools are even tougher There is no escape In big schools you can blend in better, and also with a larger population you increase your chances in finding a freak like yourself When people extol the virtues of their small school system I always think to myself they re great if your kid is designated normal Larry Ott gets accused of a crime, a girl is missing He is in the frame People aren t accusing him just because he is weird Circumstantial evidence does make him a legitimate suspect The problem is when he is cleared of all charges the town does not forget Another person, maybe a person that sat at the cool kids table could have moved on with their lives with only a passing reference to the unfortunate circumstances Not Larry, not Scary Larry Unfortunately for Larry the people of his small town America did not like him He had been weighed and measured and found to be too weird When another girl goes missing Larry is the number one suspect because what lingers in everyone s mind is the unfinished business from the first missing girl Sympathy for his plight is not offered He is, as he has been his whole life, alone Silas 32 Jones is the closest Larry ever had to a friend Their lives are entwined in a way that neither boy is fully aware of, yet there are phantom ghosts of information at the periphery of their consciousness that asfacts are revealed they don t question the results They realize they ve always known When Larry lends Silas a rifle Silas becomes his friend for a short while Silas likes the stories that Larry tells him from the pages of Stephen King, but refuses to even try to read a book It is too much like school work When Silas becomes a star short stop, known as 32 by everyone, Larry is just an embarrassment to him Silas will look back withthan a little regret that he didn t lay a friendly hand on Larry s shoulder or ask him to join in social activities He was uniquely positioned to change Larry s life forever His gift of athleticism empowered him to bring Larry into the social group His offer of friendship would have forced people to see Larry differently By some quirk of fate I started growing By the time I got to high school I had evolved from being one of the shortest people in my class to being the tallest person in my class As it turned out I was coordinated enough to play sports and did well Like Silas, when people would see me in the local diner or on the street or in the hallway they would call out my jersey number, 12 The people I needed so desperately when I was so lonely all of a sudden were my best friends It was simply ridiculous I can score twenty points in a basketball game, and miraculously I am cured of being the number one class freak Growing up I was Silas and Larry I understand all too well their fallacies and their insecurities I felt Larry s burning shame as if my own cheeks were inflamed I felt Silas s guilt as if it were resting on my own shoulders Franklin keyed into elements that I have given a lot of thought to I can tell from reading other reviews that this book had a profound impact on people It certainly made me plow over old ground My one complaint is that I feel that Franklin could have putmeat on the bone It does not have the complexity of a book that I could wholeheartedly agree is a modern classic I really enjoyed another book by Franklin called Hell at the Breech.If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at Gorgeous Gorgeous and dripping with emotion and acheThis story OWNED ME from the opening page and LARRY OTT is among the most endearing, heart wrenching characters I ve come across in a long, long time That I connected so well with both the story and its main character surprised me because, being born and raised in Vegas, my own life experience is so vastly different from both Larry and the town of Chabot, Mississippi, where the story takes place I give heaping mounds of credit to author Gorgeous Gorgeous and dripping with emotion and acheThis story OWNED ME from the opening page and LARRY OTT is among the most endearing, heart wrenching characters I ve come across in a long, long time That I connected so well with both the story and its main character surprised me because, being born and raised in Vegas, my own life experience is so vastly different from both Larry and the town of Chabot, Mississippi, where the story takes place I give heaping mounds of credit to author Tom Franklin for making this alien world come alive for me Larry Ott is a 41 year old caucasian man living alone in his parents house in Chabot, MS, where he eats mostly McDonald s and KFC by himself , owns an auto repair shop with no local customers and loves, loves, loves to read, especially Horror novels, of which Stephen King is his favorite The reason for the above two parentheticals is that Larry is the town pariah 25 years ago, when Larry was 16, a high school girl named Cindy Walker disappeared while on a date with Larry While Larry was never arrested or formally accused of a crime, his reputation as the weird, horror book reading loner was enough to earn him a guilty verdict and a permanent shunning from the town Larry feels this isolation down in his bones and Franklin casual, matter of fact description of it sliced right through me Now Larry spends his days working in a shop with no customers, living alone with his chickens and having no visitors except for i drunk teenagers throwing bottles at his house and ii the County Investigator, Roy French, harassing him whenever a crime occurs Beyonf that, Larry just sort of floats through the days, even treating his house as if he were only a guest He actedlike a curator, keeping the rooms clean, answering the mail and paying bills, turning on the television at the right times and smiling with the laugh tracks, eating his McDonald s or Kentucky Fried Chicken to what the networks presented him and then sitting on his front porch as the day bled out of the trees across the field and night settled in, each different, each teh same That s Larry s life Silas 32 Jones, is the African American Constable of Chabot, MS and the sole law enforcement officer in the area Silas was a high school baseball star with dreams of going pro until injury cut his prospects short For a brief time in high school, Silas and Larry were friends However, since the disappearance of Cindy Walker, Silas has avoided all contact with Scary Larry Ott Silas is another damaged man with lots of baggage of his own Silas often regrets the way he and the town treat Larry, but has become trapped in his own circumstances and is too weak to change Viewed as a local hero, his days, while better than Larry s, are spent writing tickets, directing traffic and acting as a glorified meter maid The town of Chabot is another amazing character in this story and Franklin s charming, understated prose is perfect I listened to the audiobook and by the time you hear his words they ve already vaporized and settled onto your brain like a flower scented mist of small time life His descriptions of Chabot and its slow, small town death are magical and precisely what they should be He passed a clothing store that had gone so long without customers it d briefly become a vintage clothing store without changing stock There s also a whole supporting cast of interesting, well drawn southern folks who come across as varying shades of good and bad In other words, normal people and Franklin s unobtrusive prose has you able to visualize each one after spending only a few minutes with them In fact, the atmosphere of the book, the feel of the characters and the pace and tone of the narrative reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird, which is high praise indeed as it is one of my all time favorites However, where Atticus Finch made you wish you were his son, Larry Ott will break your heart and make you long to be his friend For all that, this is NOT a depressingly morose sob story, though I did tear upthan once This lack of melodrama is the true gift of Franklin s novel I don t know how he did it, but despite the often crushing sadness that follows Larry around and how sorry you feel for him from deep in your soul, Larry never wallows in his trials and the story never becomes overtly sentimental It is a joy to follow Larry going through his day and you just keep hoping things get better for him As far as the main thrust of the narrative When another girl disappears, all fingers point towards Scary Larry and Silas is put in charge of the investigation Through a series of lengthy flashbacks we are taken back through the childhoods of both main characters, their eventful meeting and brief friendship and the tragic events surrounding the previous disappearance that forever changed their lives At its heart, this is the story of Larry and Silas and how circumstances, personal dreams and other peoples perceptions can create barriers that are difficult to overcome It s a story of good and evil, persecution and redemption, friendship and betrayal, secrets and truths It s a story of life and one of those rare books that make you feel the world around you I know I am gushing so I will just end by saying6.0 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION P.S If you have the opportunity to listen to the audio version of this read by Kevin Kenerly, take it His narration was masterful and fits the narrative like a glove So often when I read a book I cannot wait to talk about it, eager to hear other people s takes and share my own thoughts, but sometimes, as in life, the unexpected occurs A book has been read all right and it affected me but still I need to let it rest a while, need to think on it, recover from it.I found myself looking back, being brutally honest in my reflection Have I ever succumbed to group think and if so how often have I hurt others And even though in truth I have never really fit in So often when I read a book I cannot wait to talk about it, eager to hear other people s takes and share my own thoughts, but sometimes, as in life, the unexpected occurs A book has been read all right and it affected me but still I need to let it rest a while, need to think on it, recover from it.I found myself looking back, being brutally honest in my reflection Have I ever succumbed to group think and if so how often have I hurt others And even though in truth I have never really fit in with groups or cliques or the like, that experience in itself, makes meprone somehow to the lure of community At what cost I am not without blemishes I strive to be a better person today Each day.Group think is dangerous, it holds open no doors for freedom, fairness, equality or justice It just is I am humbled by Larry Ott He seeped in somehow He reminded me that others bore a cross heavier, less forgiving than my own Of course I always knew that Still that knowledge had lurked for too long in the shadow of my own fear, and uncertainties Larry Ott can not be ignored and in not doing so, one must also consider Silas Once they had been the best of friends, secretly of course, but still Larry was white, Silas not so much They met in private, had fun, explored But that was before Larry s father intervened, before the girl went missing, the girl that Larry had had a date with that night The girl that no one has seen since Larry of course maintains his innocence, and given the evidence was circumstantial at best, he also maintains his freedom But the court of public opinion can be harsh, does not require the same hard evidence as a court of law and is unrelenting Larry may be free but he is also cut off from any kind of society whatsoever He is alone and he is ostracized And now twenty years later, another girl has disappeared.Silas had long since left town, explored other options, moved on But he has returned to this rural, Mississippi town, as their local constable He can no longer hide from Larry s private pain or his own past And Larry had called him This story gutted me and that can only happen if I truly care about someone, someone like Larry Who seeped in A Stunning Achievement Poor Larry Ott He s a beautiful soul whose wings have been clipped he s damaged and hurting after a lifetime of being ridiculed, being thrown to the wolves, being falsely accused of a horrific crime.And yet he doesn t lose his sweetness or optimism, even after his only childhood friend, Silas, ditches him out of fear of losing his own newfound popularity Silas has to accept how poorly he used to treat Larry while they were growing up, and it s not easy to do The author did a magnificent job Poor Larry Ott He s a beautiful soul whose wings have been clipped he s damaged and hurting after a lifetime of being ridiculed, being thrown to the wolves, being falsely accused of a horrific crime.And yet he doesn t lose his sweetness or optimism, even after his only childhood friend, Silas, ditches him out of fear of losing his own newfound popularity Silas has to accept how poorly he used to treat Larry while they were growing up, and it s not easy to do The author did a magnificent job of facing this raw pain head on.All Larry ever wanted is one true friend, but life kicked him where the sun doesn t shine when it comes to that wish too I just wanted to wrap him up in a blanket and hold him Make it all better because someone as kindhearted and gentle as he is shouldn t have to face the cruelties of this world alone.People who are alone become a target, an easy mark for bullies and people who can wildly spin things out of control at the drop of a hat The other people who come into Larry s life have their own twisted agenda, but Larry s loneliness makes it difficult to turn anyone away This is crucial to the layout of the story.I almost gave this 4 stars because the ending is too neatly tied together, but the character development is true perfection, so it s worth the extra star Oh, small town, rural America, why must you scare me so Why must this book, written about you, kill something inside me with every page Why does it, and you by proxy, need to crush me with loneliness and sadness and desperation This is a profoundly sad book about sadness in life, which is sad And I m not even being a brat here when I say that There s nothing about this story that s even remotely optimistic, even the quasi hopeful ending is very sad, if you think about it.And why wouldn Oh, small town, rural America, why must you scare me so Why must this book, written about you, kill something inside me with every page Why does it, and you by proxy, need to crush me with loneliness and sadness and desperation This is a profoundly sad book about sadness in life, which is sad And I m not even being a brat here when I say that There s nothing about this story that s even remotely optimistic, even the quasi hopeful ending is very sad, if you think about it.And why wouldn t it be sad The background for the story is quite melancholic, quite depressing, really Set in a tiny Mississippi town that is slowly dying, in the heart of poverty and little hope for the future, the story is full of racial tension, prejudice, bigotry, hatred, misogyny, and all the other little petty evils that lurk in the hearts of people Like Stephen King, the author oh so frequently referenced in this book view spoiler seriously, Tom Franklin You have complete disregard for any spoilers in Salem s Lot, don t you hide spoiler , Tom Franklin portrays small towns full of their secrets and prejudices as a perfect breeding ground for the monsters we carry within our souls He passed a clothing store that had gone so long without customers it d briefly become a vintage clothing store without changing stock The whole story is about the lives of two men, Silas and Larry, whose lives got mixed together a few decades ago, back when they were children One white kid, one black kid, and the unlikely and short lived friendship that followed And now, a few decades later, Silas is a small town cop and Larry is a small town pariah convicted in the hearts of the locals of the crime he has not committed And as Larry is struggling between life and death, it s up to Silas to figure out what happened and to revisit the painful moments from their past, the moments he would much rather forget But that was his trouble, wasn t it Letting himself off the hook had been his way of life Tom Franklin is very skilled at creating characters that are so human and flawed and likeable and pathetic and strong and fragile at the same time He creates characters that we come to care about so much that when scary things happen to them it hurts like punch in the gut He creates tension and suspense by making us truly CARE and does that with the remarkably non melodramatic sadness that resonates with the reader long after the book is finished and put aside Something about the way he chooses to tell the story and to wrap it up is so unsettling and yet touching that this book is likely to stay with you long after the last page is turned and the events of the story have gone out of focus in your mind Because it s not about the plot, or the easy to guess mystery, but about the simple human nature of Franklin s characters doing their best in this not so friendly world.It s a masterfully written book, and the one I easily recommend 5 sad, heart wrenching melancholic stars Was that what childhood was Things rushing by out a window, the trees connected by motion, going too fast for him to notice the consequences 5 Stars An Atmospheric, Dark, Character Driven novel that Got me and Got me Good Larry Ott, You Break My Heart In High School, Larry Ott is accused of a heinous crime The evidence is circumstantial and he is not convicted He is, however, accused by a jury of his peers and spends the rest of his days alone, living in a cabin in the woods, never speaking to another soul More than twenty years pass and then another crime happens Of course, Larry is the only suspect It doesn t matter that at 5 Stars An Atmospheric, Dark, Character Driven novel that Got me and Got me Good Larry Ott, You Break My Heart In High School, Larry Ott is accused of a heinous crime The evidence is circumstantial and he is not convicted He is, however, accused by a jury of his peers and spends the rest of his days alone, living in a cabin in the woods, never speaking to another soul More than twenty years pass and then another crime happens Of course, Larry is the only suspect It doesn t matter that at the time the crime occurs, Larry is not in the position to have committed such an act He is deemed guilty.Silas Jones, now known as Constable 32 , was once Larry Ott s childhood best friend The two haven t spoken in years When this new crime occurs, 32, of course, investigates Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, is a brilliant character driven novel and is Southern Literature at its finest Larry and Silas are two boys from two totally different worlds, struggling to be friends, torn apart by the unthinkable Larry is a one man whose life is in the depths of despair and who I felt for in so many different ways This is a novel about family, friendship, right and wrong, tragedy and justice It is a novel that will grab you, hold on tight and won t let go till the very end.A huge thank you to Tom Franklin for writing this incredible novel.Published on Goodreads on 4.7.20 What does it say about a person when their mother feels the need for prayer they find a friend Scary Larry Ott won t blame you if you don t like him.He knows what people say about him But the first ladies need support and Larry may as well be the one Another 5 star book from Tom Franklin. The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house This book grabbed me from the beginning and never let go I was mesmerized by the rural Mississippi setting and quickly connected to the main characters Larry Ott, otherwise known as Scary Larry by an unforgiving and judgmental community, and Silas Jones, the former high school baseball star, have a history A history that goes backthan twenty years to that difficultThe Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house This book grabbed me from the beginning and never let go I was mesmerized by the rural Mississippi setting and quickly connected to the main characters Larry Ott, otherwise known as Scary Larry by an unforgiving and judgmental community, and Silas Jones, the former high school baseball star, have a history A history that goes backthan twenty years to that difficult and often merciless time of life boyhood and adolescence Larry was always a loner The white kid shunned by everyone else because he was different He liked to read, wasn t interested in sports, and just lacked the social skills necessary to be one of the popular kids Sound familiarUsed to be, his mouth always hung open, giving the impression he was slow But he wasn t He was smart Knew the weirdest shitSilas is black, new to town, and the son of a single, poverty stricken mother At one time, the two struck up a secret friendship, nurturing each other s desire for another human connection As often with secret friendships, they don t remain so for long The two part ways, and when teenaged Larry is the main suspect in the disappearance of a local girl, Silas never looks back until now, when another girl goes missing two decades later Who better to incriminate than the town scapegoat Silas is the town constable and Larry is eyed with suspicion once again Silas is perhaps the sole keeper of some secrets that never came to light all those years ago Will his conscience and his moral compass point him in the right direction This book will cause you to reflect on the choices we make when it comes to the inclusion of others Especially those that seem so fundamentally unlike ourselves Do we have a role in molding another s future based on our narrow mindedness or misguided notions of our fellow beings Can we make an individual become the person we in fact believe them to be How does one withstand the onslaught of animosity delivered repeatedly over a period of years can it be overcome Larry Ott is on my list of the most memorable characters in literature My heart broke for the young Larry, and I am full of affection for the older Larry Likely we can all catch glimpses of ourselves in either Larry or Silas And that is not a bad thing How do we help our own young Larrys or Silases Schools talk about inclusion, advocate for it in fact, but I regret to say that we still have not achieved this goal Exclusion seems evenrampant in this day and age of social media Sigh well, I don t want to go off on a further tangent here We can only keep working in the right direction.Highly recommend this slow burning mystery to anyone that enjoys superb character development and excellent writing This is my second Tom Franklin novel, and it will not be my lastIt was country dark, as Alice Jones had called these nights, the absence of any light but what you brought to the table


About the Author: Tom Franklin

Tom Franklin was born and raised in Dickinson, Alabama He held various jobs as a struggling writer living in South Alabama, including working as a heavy equipment operator in a grit factory, a construction inspector in a chemical plant and a clerk in a hospital morgue In 1997 he received his MFA from the University of Arkansas His first book, Poachers was named as a Best First Book of Fiction by Esquire and Franklin received a 1999 Edgar Award for the title story Franklin has published two novels Hell at the Breech, published in 2003 and Smonk published in 2006 The recipient of the 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, Franklin now teaches in the University of Mississippi s MFA program and lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their children.