Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In Decatur tonight, "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter": author Tom Franklin

Tom Franklin appears tonight at the Decatur (GA) Library to talk about his third book, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (Harper/Collins), a mystery set in the 1970s that is also nominated for this year's Edgar Award.

One review commented that literary novelists are tiny rowboats next to the ocean liners of popular fiction; the story of Larry and Silas and the unraveling of a murder in rural Mississippi is more of a gothic spellbinder than a pulp potboiler. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a southern crime novel that seems more appreciated with tall glasses of iced tea than shots of bourbon. Here's an excerpt that sets the story's novelistic tone. For more information about Franklin and tonight's appearance beginning at 7:15 p.m. contact the Georgia Center for the Book.

The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.

It'd stormed the night before over much of the Southeast, flash floods on the news, trees snapped in half and pictures of trailer homes twisted apart. Larry, forty-one years old and single, lived alone in rural Mississippi in his parents' house, which was now his house, though he couldn't bring himself to think of it that way. He acted more like a curator, keeping the rooms clean, answering the mail and paying bills, turning on the television at the right times and smiling with the laugh tracks, eating his McDonald's or Kentucky Fried Chicken to what the networks presented him and then sitting on his front porch as the day bled out of the trees across the field and night settled in, each different, each the same.

Tom Franklin

It was early September. That morning he'd stood on the porch, holding a cup of coffee, already sweating a little as he gazed out at the glistening front yard, his muddy driveway, the bobwire fence, the sodden green field beyond studded with thistle, goldenrod, blue salvia, and honeysuckle at the far edges, where the woods began. It was a mile to his nearest neighbor and another to the crossroads store, closed for years.

At the edge of the porch several ferns hung from the eave, his mother's wind chime lodged in one like a flung puppet. He set the coffee on the rail and went to disentangle the chime's slender pipes from the leaves ...

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