Monday, November 20, 2006

I read The Death Of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell last week. This one was, if possible, even more messed up than the other two of his I've read. The narrator is a thirteen year old boy named Shug living and working in a graveyard with his mother. His father, a part time thief and full time drug user, stops by every now and then to knock them around or to take Shug out to steal dope from terminal cancer patients so he can get high. A read winner, that one. His mom is the local knockout and usually drunk herself, but she's all he has. Needless to say, tragedy is in the air. While I enjoy Woodrell's writing style, there was a weird tick he did with Shug's voice that bugged me. For instance: "His bed had got rich with pillows but he did use just two, both plumped behind him with the others tossed around the bed." I love the bed getting rich with pillows part, but it's the "did" that's all over the novel and it stood out enough that every single time it forced me to stop and register its presence. Although I found it less annoying toward the end, I never stopped seeing it. Anyway. It's terrific, beautifully written and tragic, and you can't help but feel for Shug who has no one good in his life to counteract the brutality he encounters.

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