Sunday, October 31, 2010

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Published in hardback by Sceptre, 2006. 

What a riveting read – I read Winter’s Bone because the upcoming movie (released in Australia in early November) looks amazing, and I’ve heard some really great things about it and about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance (she plays lead character Ree Dolly). I am even more excited for the movie now (isn’t the poster awesome – it really captures the feel of the story too). The writing was exciting and tense and beautiful and strangely heart-warming, even in the bleakest and ugliest of moments.
Winter’s Bone tells the story of Ree Dolly, who sets out through the Ozark Mountain community in search of her dad. He has put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails then her family will be turned out into the harsh terrain. Risking her life, Ree has to sift through the threats, lies and evasion of her scattered and unwilling kin, in order to piece together the truth.
Ree is a great character, whose dogged determination, smart mouth and resilient capability quickly finds its way into your heart. Her relatives and all the people she encounters her are fascinating characters, expertly drawn and unflinchingly portrayed. I really enjoyed the relationship between her and her little brothers.
Atmosphere seeps off every page and the many descriptions of the environment and the weather never get tired. Woodrell has a way of writing sentences that don’t immediately make sense – they are a strange hybrid of metaphor and personification and symbolism and unusual word-pairings. But upon re-reading they always work beautifully and convey exactly how it would be to experience this kind of eerie no-mans land.
The prose and dialogue apparently reflect the dialect of the Ozark community (I don’t know, I’ve never been there). Once again, once you’ve got your head around it is quite beautiful and a pleasure to read. There is a real old-time tale-telling feel to it and it lures you closer and closer into Ree’s world.
Winter’s Bone is, in parts, disturbing, rough, cruel, bleak and gritty. But it is a story and a style of writing with balls. Read the book, and then go and see the film. I most definitely am hooked.

"Ree felt her joints unglue, become loose, and she was draining somehow, draining to the dirt, while black wings flying angels crossed her mind, and there were the mutters of beasts uncaged from women and she was sunk to a moaning place, kicked into silence."

No comments:

Post a Comment