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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel by…

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Tom Franklin

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1,6201924,477 (4)238
Title:Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel
Authors:Tom Franklin
Info:William Morrow (2010), Edition: First Edition, First Printing, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, Read but unowned
Tags:in 2011, fiction, review copy, read 2012, C21, anglophone

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
    Citrus County by John Brandon (GCPLreader)
  4. 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.
  5. 00
    A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne (aliklein)
  6. 00
    In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (VictoriaPL)

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» See also 238 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
good story, very well read... a few creepy parts, but nice human interest and mystery ( )
  DavidO1103 | May 16, 2015 |
The descriptive and narrative power in this book is what hooked me. Rural Mississippi, two boys, one black, one white will become entangled in each others lives for years to come. The amazing thing to me is I kept thinking that Silas, who is black grows up respected, very unusual in the south during this time, while Dave, who is white is treated as the towns albatross. Die to a missing girl years back and a missing girl in the present. Very strange mixture of characterizations and yet Franklin pulls it off.

Very gritty, hard scribbled people and I couldn't help, wonder why Dave stayed in this town, though his mother is ill but it was almost as a sort penance. Secrets are revealed, though one is easy to guess, and I loved the life goes on ending, with maybe just an few changes. ( )
  Beamis12 | May 9, 2015 |
This is not the Tom Franklin from "Poachers," a novella with a collection of short stories where the dialogue is hard tac and the violence both stark and gritty. Instead, in Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, we see a softer side of the author and the true poetry of his prose reaches its own crowning diadem.

The title itself is derived from how children learn to spell their place of birth, Mississippi: "M-I crooked letter crooked letter I crooked letter crooked letter I humpback humpback ." But these letters are not the only thing backwards and twisted in the town of Chabot, MS. This novel touches on a myriad of subjects, such as the repercussions from any engagement with the criminal justice system to the still tenuous tension of racial politics in the contemporary South. However, the at the core of the novel is the brief childhood friendship between a white and black boy: Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones.

The novel oscillates between present day, where Larry Ott lies with a bullet lodged in his heart, and his adolescence, where Franklin's prose shimmers with both Gothic beauty and decay. In 1982, Larry was accused of murdering a neighborhood girl he took on a single date, but lacking a body and other evidence he was never convicted of the crime. Twenty five years later, he is the prime suspect in the recent disappearance of yet another girl. But in that span of 25 years, social ostracism has taken a very real toll on Mr. Ott. Alone in his house filled with horror books that can only pale in comparison to the horror of his real life, he prays nightly for "one true friend" to come along. Comparisons to Boo Radley can be made, but the upright nature of his character makes him a modern day Atticus Finch and the moral compass of this novel.

No words I can write will ever do justice to Franklins novel, which will haunt long after the book is closed. Ultimately Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is tale about repercussions, revelations and redemption. As noted in the Washington Post review of this novel, Franklin makes a haunting demonstration of Faulkner's claim that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." ( )
1 vote Casey_Marie | Apr 30, 2015 |
This was a good but sad story. Larry growing up was an out cast. He had only one friend Silas. Because of Larry's father Silas and Larry have a falling out. Then one day a girl, Cindy, asks Larry on a date, but it's not really a date with Larry that she wants. She is using him to see someone else, only after that night she is never seen again. No charges are brought against Larry, but he is ostracized from the community. He drops out of school an is now called Scary Larry. Years later another girl goes missing. They look to Larry. Silas is now the constable. So much happens, secrets come out, friends aren't Wh they seem. Even after everything is sain and done I still feel bad for Larry. ( )
  bwhitner | Apr 7, 2015 |
A satisfying mystery that spans two decades. Silas "32" Jones was a high school baseball star when a girl disappears after going on a date with outcast Larry Ott. The mystery is never solved and now 32 Jones, the town constable, is faced with the disappearance of another girl. Could Larry Ott be involved again? Franklin weaves the stories of the two mysteries together, revealing much about the events in the two incidents, but even more importantly revealing much about the people involved.

I listened to this one on audio, and the narrator, Kevin Kenerly, did an excellent job. The voices were distinct and matched my visualization of the characters perfectly. ( )
  porch_reader | Mar 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 195 (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 editionsconfirmed
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.
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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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