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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom…

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Tom Franklin (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,2002284,378 (3.95)262
Title:Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Authors:Tom Franklin (Author)
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2011), Edition: Reprint, 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (2010)

  1. 20
    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (pdebolt)
    pdebolt: There is a similar poignancy to Larry Ott and Owen Meany as they struggle to find their place in their worlds.
  2. 20
    The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (fuzzy_patters)
  3. 10
    A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne (aliklein)
  4. 10
    A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel by Wiley Cash (sturlington)
  5. 10
    Citrus County by John Brandon (GCPLreader)
  6. 00
    Heaven's Crooked Finger by Hank Early (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both are crime novels that have as their main character a man returning to his childhood home and also snakes.
  7. 00
    In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (VictoriaPL)
  8. 00
    Paris Trout by Pete Dexter (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both books take place in the south, though in different states. The underlying racial tone is very similar.

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» See also 262 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 236 (next | show all)
Do you like watching glaciers move? Like, in real-time? Are you a German teacher of English? Do you hate someone very much? (You can even combine the last two!)

Congratulations, this book is especially for you!

I actually enjoy a good story, lavishly told in good time. Me possibly drinking coffee or wine and enjoying myself, even losing myself inside a story told slowly, delightfully, perhaps playfully.

The story-telling here is mooooooooostly slooooooooow. Just slow. Not lavish, not delightful, not playful, just plain old slow.

Now, slow food? Good stuff! Fast food only makes me fat anyway. Slow food doesn’t mean I have to enjoy chewing on a piece of granite – or reading this book.

‘f slows the only prob, things mighta haven’t look so bleak. Ain't just that, sirree, naw. The language. South’rn drawl my ass. Short sentences. Clipped sentences, eh? Yeah, boy, might work. If yall are proper pen pushers, heh?! Franklin, ma boy, you ain’t a one.

Ok, enough of this. It’s really annoying. I really, really hated those clipped sentences. They read like they hated their literary life for being, well, emaciated.

Well, all of that could still have been forgiven (I can almost see the small teaching, pupil-hating, glacier-watching demographic from the introduction nod their approval!) but let’s take a look at the story itself:

Young Larry (40 today) goes on a date, girl goes missing, people start hating Larry, apart from his “special friend” Silas and even more special Wallace Stringfellow. The former being a sorry excuse for a friend, the latter being worse.

At the very beginning, poor Larry gets shot and Silas goes up and down memory lane for about 80% of the book, inspecting their miserable, boring lives in the past. Discovering “shocking” truths and a body. (Not, two, though. The mystery that all but ruined Larry’s life never gets solved.)

The first words in chapter seven are basically a clue bat I, unfortunately, didn’t fully appreciate:

“IT WAS 1982.”

Yes, and we’re at 41% of the book and feeling like we’ve had to wade through decades of boredom but, wait, those guys are about 40 and no point whatsoever has been reached or made so far – we're not safe yet, with decades before us yet! (Had I realised earlier and not only now, in hindsight, or given in to my instincts about bad books I might have preferred to watch grass grow but, alas, that exciting exercise has to wait for a worse book.)

Still chapter seven (did I mention those chapters can take an hour or more of a fast reader’s time? (not to speak of the poor sod’s life!)): “IT WAS THE slowest week of his life,” man, you’re taking the words right out of my mouth.

Anyway, why did I even finish this turd? Well, truth to be told, my daughter has to read this book for school and being the stupid oaf I’m sometimes maligned to be, I mouthed off to her about how good this book must be, having great reviews on Goodreads and how she should just get reading it! Sorry, my dear Schn..., I’m sure to do it again but for this book you have my sympathy.

Drink, have fun with grass, do whatever you want with your life but don’t make people read this book.

Oh, and if you really are a German teacher of English, I’m presenting you with a list of seven (because I can!) books better suited for your intended purpose which won’t make your pupils hate you (even more, at least):

- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Beartown by Fredrick Backman
- Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
- The Nightingale or The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah ( )
  philantrop | Mar 9, 2019 |
I thought the first half to two thirds of the book was brilliant. The resolution was lovely but not brilliant. It's earned it's place in "Southern Gothic" but just barely due to the resolution. ( )
  yhgail | Feb 20, 2019 |
This is the story of two childhood friends - Larry Ott and Silas Jones. They both grew up in rural Missisippi - one a son of lower middle class parents and one the son of a poor single mother. They would meet secretly in the woods to shoot and play together. But tragedy struck when Larry took a local girl on a date and she never returned. Larry was blamed for her death and disappearance even thought the girl was never found. Their friendship fell apart and Silas moved away.

20 years later, Silas has returned to the same town as a constable. Larry, who never got out from under the charges, is a mechanic with no friends and no customers. Silas has been avoiding Larry, even though Larry continues to call to talk to him. Then another girl disappears, and because her body is found on Larry's property, Larry is blamed again. Silas is involved in solving the case so he is forced to relive his past that he has buried deep for so long.

This was a pretty good book. I had a little trouble getting into it, but once the mystery of the girl's disappearance started to take shape, the book picked up. It has some surprising twists that I didn't see coming, and that helped. The name of the book comes from the way kids in Mississippi are taught to spell Mississippi. (M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter - I- crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback - I).

I recommend the book. Give it a try.

( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Really liked this one. As a mystery, I thought it was well mapped out, and Franklin does a nice job of turning it from a whodunit (since we're pretty sure who the culprit is halfway in) into a whydthetownblameitonthatguydunit. As a Southern gothic tale, the novel is a keen observant of contemporary American life in the South—well aware of the faults and critical of them, but also very much concerned with the welfare of the people in the story.

If anything, though, I think Franklin did an outstanding job in painting the nuances in the relationship with the two protagonists, one a black member of law enforcement and the other white outcast. The grit and grace is here. ( )
  wordsampersand | Dec 6, 2018 |
In a small town in Mississippi, a series of murders has long haunted the population. Everyone knows that "Scary Larry" is responsible for the disappearance of a teenage girl he took on a date the night she died. Larry was always a strange kid with know friends and an obsession with horror movies and books. Since that day so many years ago, Larry has lived an isolated life as the town pariah. When another girl goes missing, everyone is sure they know who is responsible. Several days later, Larry is found shot in his home and shortly thereafter, the body of the missing girl is found buried on Larry's property.

Silas is a town police officer. He knew Larry when they were growing up and the two were even friends briefly. Silas doesn't believe that Larry is guilty, and he might be the only one in town who can find the real killer. But more than the memory of a friendship, Silas has a secret that will finally have to be spoken if he hopes to help Larry.

This is a thoughtful, atmospheric book that cuts between the current events of the most recent murder and flashbacks to the time of the previous murder. It is a story about prejudice and the mythology of small town life. ( )
  Juva | Sep 25, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 236 (next | show all)
If you're looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche, "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" is your next book.
added by eereed | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Sep 29, 2010)
added by lucy.depalma | editSCIS (pay site)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Franklinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barsøe, Søren K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I.

—How southern children are taught to spell Mississippi
For Jeff Franklin
in loving memory
Julie Fennelly Trudo
For Jeff Franklin and in loving memory of Julie Fennelly Trudo
First words
The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

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Haiku summary
Black and white
secret kept, secret told
brothers to behold


No descriptions found.

"...set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones 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 town. More 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" --Publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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