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The Death of Sweet Mister: A Novel by Daniel…
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The Death of Sweet Mister: A Novel (original 2001; edition 2012)

by Daniel Woodrell, Dennis Lehane (Foreword)

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2401448,049 (3.76)57
Member:JoelCasso
Title:The Death of Sweet Mister: A Novel
Authors:Daniel Woodrell
Other authors:Dennis Lehane (Foreword)
Info:Back Bay Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Untitled collection
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

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The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell (2001)

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English (13)  Italian (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
What I shall now call the Ozarks version of Oedipus Rex! Woodrell has a way of writing that makes you feel a little squeamish and uncomfortable without really substantiating your thoughts until the very end.
The symbolism used throughout this book is masterful, and the story line one that is reminiscent of Greek tragedies (as previously mentioned.)Woodrell finds a way to write AS the character, not through them, and that's the only reason why I had a problem getting through this book-the character's grammar was horrific and my mind just couldn't take it! However, it's definitely one that sticks with you awhile after finishing it. ( )
  beckylynn | Jul 21, 2014 |
Death of Sweet Mister was not as good as Winters Bone. The boy in the book was not as likeable. His only endearing trait was his love for his mother which turned ugly and lewd in the end. The prose, tempo, and succinctness of the writing was great. If you like feel tense and uncomfortable all the way through a book then this is the book for you. ( )
  sschaller | May 15, 2014 |
“Warning signs are flashing by but we pay no heed
Instead of slowing down the pace, we keep pickin’ up the
speed
Disaster’s getting closer every time we meet
Goin’ ninety miles an hour down a dead end street.”


Country music star, Hank Snow, had a hit with the song Ninety Miles an Hour Down A Dead End Street, and this very song kept playing in my head every time I picked up [The Death of Sweet Mister] by Daniel Woodrell. As the pages kept turning, I could see disaster coming and yet could not turn away.

This is a powerful book, written in a straight-forward take no prisoners style, with razor-edged dialogue that feels authentic and real. Set in the Missouri Ozarks, a place that seems to be a rule upon itself, the story is told by thirteen year old Shug Atkins who paints a grim picture of his life. He lives with his mother, Glenda and his so-called father, Red. Red spends most of his life either in jail or on his way to jail. He is a cruel, ignorant and brutal man. Glenda is a beautiful woman-child who gets through life by staying drunk. She calls Shug her Sweet Mister, and relies on him for most everything.

Without going into plot details, there are no rainbows on the horizon here. Made all the more emotional by it’s simplicity, [The Death of Sweet Mister ]is a sad and merciless look at a life that seems destined for failure. Yet despite it’s bleakness, this was for me a stirring read that will long linger in my mind. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jan 23, 2014 |
Shug, whose mother affectionately calls her sweet little mister, has been dealt a tough hand in life. He's thirteen, overweight and friendless, with an alcoholic and promiscuous mother and an abusive father his mother hints isn't really his father. They live in a small house in a cemetery, the rent paid in exchange for keeping the cemetery grounds, which falls mainly on Shug to maintain. His father, Red, is a petty criminal with a record who starts including Shug in his activities in that Shug is told which houses to break into and Red and his friend keep the proceeds. Set in the early seventies, The Death of Sweet Mister is a grim and heartbreaking story which should be hard to read, but Daniel Woodrell has given Shug a sweet, clear voice that speaks in the cadences of a poor boy in a rural community. Shug really is a pleasure to spend time with, even if there's very little happiness in his life. He does love his mom, who loves him in return and he's curious about the world around him.

Woodrell writes about poverty-stricken rural communities like no one else. He captures relentlessly hard-scrabble lives with compassion for their narrowness of circumstance and lack of opportunity. He also writes people who, even in the limited choices offered, consistently make the wrong ones. There's an inevitability in what happens to Shug, but this doesn't make the ending of this short novel any less surprising. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Feb 25, 2013 |
Reason for Reading: This may sound weird but, I enjoy reading well-written depressing books.

I have never read this author before nor actually even heard of him, but he caught my eye when I saw that the publisher had reprinted all his works in a new line of trade paperbacks. I had a hard time deciding which book to try first but this one seemed to fit my interests well and it was short so a good one to try a new author. It is really hard to use words such as "I liked" or "I enjoyed" with such a brutal and sad story. If you like happy endings or rays of hope, this is not the book for you as it is the complete opposite. We see a poor family living well below the poverty line, the word family here is optional as the parents are each extremely dysfunctional though in completely different ways. But they both have the same effect on the boy. This is virtually his coming-of-age story. The story is brutal in its harshness and honesty. I don't want to tell the topics it deals with as that would giveaway a major spoiler to the plot, but let's just say the book becomes harder and harder to read as the plot and the characters become more and more broken.

This was an emotional, tough read but well worth it. Achingly well-written, the despair and cruelty that is so real in this story touched me deeply. Personally, for me, I "enjoy" this type of story, and this one in particular because it brings home the reality, to me, of a life without Jesus. Unimaginable emptiness. ( )
  ElizaJane | Jun 5, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452283302, Paperback)

Penzler Pick, June 2001: This is Daniel Woodrell's third book set in the Ozarks and, like the other two, Give Us a Kiss and Tomato Red, it peels back the layers from lives already made bare by poverty and petty crime, exposing the reader to the raw everyday hopes and fears of the poor and the helpless.

Told through the voice of an overweight 13-year-old boy named Shuggy Atkins, this is the story of Shug; the one person who loves him, his mother Glenda; and her boyfriend Red, a brutal and ignorant man. Red hates Shug but uses him to break into houses to steal drugs and anything else that can be sold. Glenda makes a meager living looking after the local cemetery and spends her time trying to keep Red amused and away from Shug, whom he loves to humiliate but whom she adores. Glenda is Shug's only champion. She calls him Sweet Mister as she continually boosts his confidence and promises a better life for him, if not for herself.

But when Glenda sees a beautiful, green Thunderbird with leather seats and its driver, Jimmy Vin Pearce, a chain of events is set into motion that will end in violence and bloodshed. Glenda must keep hidden from Red her infatuation with Jimmy Vin's money and fine clothes while she and Shug dream separate dreams of making a new life away from the violence.

Woodrell writes books that are small in volume but large in scope. It is impossible to put down this story of less than 200 pages until the final tragedy unfolds. --Otto Penzler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Shug Akins is a lonely, overweight thirteen-year-old boy. His mother, Glenda, is the one person who loves him-she calls him Sweet Mister and attempts to boost his confidence and give him hope for his future. Shuggie's purported father, Red, is a brutal man with a short fuse who mocks and despises the boy. Into this small-town Ozarks mix comes Jimmy Vin Pearce, with his shiny green T-bird and his smart city clothes. When he and Glenda begin a torrid affair, a series of violent events is inevitably set in motion.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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