Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rootless Lit: Woe to Live On

"Rootless lit" - Literature that speaks to travel, migration, displacement, exploration, discovery, transience, divesting of stuff, or portability. 

Rootless lit book review: Woe to Live On, by Daniel Woodrell.

Credit: Amazon
Summary from Publisher's Weekly: "... Narrator Jake Roedel is in his mid-teens when he joins the First Kansas Irregulars in 1861. During the next few years he sees, and commits, more than his share of Civil War atrocities. Most of the action takes place in Kansas and Missouri between the rebel Irregulars (bushwhackers) and the Union Jayhawkers, with some civilians caught in the crossfire ..."

Never heard of Daniel Woodrell until I saw the excellent movie, Winter's Bone, and then read the book. I'm very glad to have made Mr. Woodrell's acquaintance, possibly the more so because I am a fellow Missourian.

Mr. Woodrell has a literary wit that I find very pleasing, particularly as it pertains to the sexual passages (npi). There are also the poetic ways Dutchy, the narrator, describes a man's departure from this earth. He has many opportunities to write such descriptions. 

Mr. Woodrell draws the reader's attention a number of times to just how young these wandering ronin are - so experienced in killing, but so inexperienced in other aspects of life.

It feels disconcerting to me that I've driven often over the Sni-A-Bar River bridge on Highway 50 without having any idea, until now, of Missouri's own "red terror" history from not so long ago.

Mr. Woodrell tells a good story that I think has relevance to us today, in an environment where there are those among us who wish to cast Americans against each other.

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