This is a little bit better for Woodrell. Not great, but Give Us A Kiss near the level that The Death of Sweet Mister was at, which may be in my Top 5 list by the end of the year. It may be that the moment climbed by that book was so great and so tough to follow, that everything else I have read of his just stumbles mercilessly on the steps of mediocrity. It is a silly thing to fall victim to as an experienced reader, but it was bound to happen. I can imagine myself reading Tomato Red or Winter’s Bone before The Death of Sweet Mister, and liking it more than I actually did, but having said that, this novel is not bad by any means. It is actually more suspenseful than any book I have read of his so far (including Sweet Mister), and it is also his funniest book for me, filled with witty. Offbeat characters and Woodrell’s undeniable gift of phrase being put to really good use here. The main character, Doyle Redmond, is on the road to being a failed writer when he leaves his wife and cozy academic life to go back West Table, Missouri (in his wife’s stolen Volvo) to reconnect with his outlaw brother Smoke who, along with two female friends (one being an aspiring actress with terrible delusions) develop quite a profitable business of growing marijuana. Soon, as in most of Woodrell’s books, someone is dead, and that person’s equally crazy family comes gunning for the Redmond clan. A noir tale that really shows the depths of family bonds, it may not be the best thing Woodrell has done, but it is still a really fun and, unless you factor in the many scenes of violence, harmless book to read.