Saturday, 16 December 2017

The Death of Sweet Mister - Daniel Woodrell

Daniel Woodrell writes of what he knows - and he knows the Ozarks.  Whilst I wouldn't want to know the characters in this short book, I did get to know them, and very quickly.  If you were an overweight thirteen year old whose father calls you fatso and who beats you at the slightest provication, you might well hate him.  And if your beautiful mother, who refers to you as Sweet Mister and who is as pretty as a picture is also beaten, and is reliant on pocket change to get by, you might well want to protect her from him.  What if you can't?  What if this just goes on and on?  And then, what if your mother takes up with a new man friend?

The characters are drawn so well you can smell the drink on their breaths, the sweat on their bodies, and know the hate in their hearts.  This is a harrowing read, but one that I won't tell you to steer clear of;  for in reading this, you may come to an understanding about how crimes happen and why, and how some children don't get the breaks they deserve (and frankly may not know what to do with anyway).  The tale is told in the first person by Shuggy, the Sweet Mister of the title, whose real name is Morris. He has a particular rythm which took me a few pages to get into.  After that I was off and running and couldn't put it down even though I was filled with dread from early on.  And then, that ending...... oh, I couldn't contemplate it, but somehow knew it was coming.

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