Ree Dolly’s father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn’t show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.
This is one of those books to which I’ve often returned simply to enjoy the mastery Daniel Woodrell possesses over the written word. Examples:
Megan: What are we ever gonna do with you, baby girl?
Ree: Kill me I guess.
Megan: That idea’s been said already. Got any others?
Ree: Help me. Nobody’s said that idea yet, have they?
And then there’s this:
Sheriff Baskin: I didn’t shoot the other night cuz you were there in the truck. He never backed me down.
Ree: It looked to me like he did.
Sheriff Baskin: Don’t you let me hear that’s a story gettin’ around.
Ree: I don’t talk much about you, man. Ever.
Woodrell’s masterpiece is an exercise is what can be accomplished when one understands the nuances of dialogue. This is a quick read, running just 224 pages, but it’s packed with all sorts of brilliance. Looking to get better at the craft? Here’s one that will light the way.
Grab a copy of Winter’s Bone