DANIEL WOODRELL'S FIVE PACK
FIVE STATESIDE NOVELS YOU LIKELY MISSED
The author of The Maid's Version picks five wrongfully neglected works of American genius.
Image: Nashville Road, Oil on canvas by Kevin Ruelle
By Robert Roper
I like this one from 1973 so much that when I push it on people to read, I don’t give a damn whether they like it or lump it, they’ve been enriched. It’s a wonderfully compact hunk of Americana, mysterious, shrewdly folksy, very dark at times, beautifully composed. Roper has several other works of fiction I could’ve just as easily selected, On Spider Creek, Cuervo Tales, and more. I went with the one that hit me first.
A TIME OF SOLDIERS
By Andrew Jolly
War, love, the American Southwest, big sweep, lovely prose. Published in 1976 to good reviews, nobody seems to know this novel anymore. Where Mr Jolly went, I have no idea. I grab every copy I see at flea markets and try to find them worthy homes.
by David Plante
People seem to know who Mr Plante is, but have they read The Woods? It’s the third rung of The Francouer Trilogy, and in it Plante embraces what Hemingway bequeathed and runs it elsewhere, evokes big feelings with sentences you want to quote. Don’t forget the other two rungs.
THE FIRE SERMON
by Wright Morris
Could’ve picked any of a dozen others. The doyen of the High Plains, ran lit from out of that world for years and years, but is seldom mentioned now. A goddam shame, he’s got surprise angles and attitudes, wrote something or other suited to anybody. Pick up anything he did and give the man a look-see.
THE TRUE LIFE STORY OF JODY MCKEEGAN
by Don Carpenter
George Pelecanos and others helped get his first novel back into print, but Carpenter wrote several others that are, in their fashion, just as good. Loved this cat since the 70’s, man, and chose this novel because it has a nice reach---showbiz, streets, the ups and downs; as is so often the case with Carpenter, he seems most closely related to Nathaniel West, only West isn’t forgotten.
Daniel Woodrell's ninth and most recent novel The Maid's Version. Five of his previous novels were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Tomato Red won the PEN West Award for the Novel in 1999, and The Death of Sweet Mister received the 2011 Clifton Fadiman Medal from The Center for Fiction. His first collection of stories, The Outlaw Album, was published in 2011. Woodrell lives in the Ozarks near the Arkansas line with his wife, Katie Estill.