Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: "Woe to Live On" by Daniel Woodrell

Again, while not living up to the hype that I kind of put myself through with the legend of Daniel Woodrell, at least Woe to Live On, one of his earliest novels, is at least quite interesting, unique and rather violent in its fictional account of the American Civil War. I think I may have pinpointed what I dislike about Woodrell, or at least what has left me disappointed in regards to what I expected of him. While he is an excellent prose stylist, he is not a very good storyteller, as much as it pains me to say, and his characterization is really terrible. Things happen, people are introduced and die within the same paragraph, and while his fancy wording is nice to look at, it really does not push the story forward, and a lot of the details get lost in translation, which, for me, makes reading one his books kind of confusing, but at least some what pleasurable. This book, which is relatively plotless, deals with a group of Confederate soldiers in Missouri led by a black man named Holt, which gives the book a unique perspective. Young Jake Roedel, who within the first few pages coldly shoots a young boy whose father he just hung so the boy won’t seek vengeance, is the main character, despite his propensity for violence he can never justify. The violence is told in such a detached manner, it is hard to like Jake, but we do follow him, and the brutal death of his brother, which involves a few scenes where he must feed him and amputate his arm after getting wounded, are what I will most remember from this novel. Despite not really being able to tell who’s who and what event is taking place, this is still a cool little book worth checking out if you like your history a little skewed.
Rating: 4/5

No comments:

Post a Comment