Franklin, Tom Poachers

ISBN 13: 9780006552260

Poachers

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9780006552260: Poachers

A brilliant debut collection of stories set in the American Deep South, by a distinctive and award-winning new voice.

Poachers reads as if Raymond Carver were still alive and living in the profoundly Deep South. Or imagine a world created by Cormac McCarthy and plunk it down in the woods of southern Alabama, where emotions run as raw as moonshine.

In ten spare, muscular stories, Tom Franklin evokes a world of forests and swamps, hunting and fishing, and fills it with poachers, drunks and poor white trash. He creates haunting tales about people who react, often violently, against a dying world whose gravity they can’t escape, people like the three half-wild brothers in the award-winning title story, who treat the swamp as their kingdom and hunt down anything that crosses their path – until they themselves become the prey.

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Review:

Penzler Pick, December 1999: As the editor of an annual series for Houghton Mifflin titled Best American Mystery Stories, I read scores, if not hundreds, of little magazines in search of the best crime fiction published that year. One story that came to light from the Texas Review was "Poachers" by Tom Franklin, which was easily the most original and memorable tale of 1998. It went on to win the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America and became the title of Franklin's first book, a short story collection of such distinction that it has already provided a shoo-in for spring 2000s Best American Mystery Stories of the Century.

"Poachers" is no ordinary tale of detection but a mood piece that will remind the reader of the best of James Lee Burke. Set in the swamps of the deep South, it is a riveting tale of three brothers who are so violent and amoral that they will kill anyone or anything in their path. One of their victims is a young lawman who was much loved, causing the locals to bring in their own hired gun, a game warden of legendary skill as a hunter of poachers. One by one, he tracks down the crazed brothers in a quest for justice.

The other stories in this beautifully produced little volume are also superb. While there is occasional humour, this is not a collection to read if you're in the mood for P G Wodehouse or Dave Barry. The dark woods and hollows, the unforgiving swamps and their inhabitants, do not make for a sun-shiny reading experience. --Otto Penzler

Review:

‘It’s as if the author kidnapped Raymond Carver’s characters and set them loose in the Deep South.’
New York Times Book Review

‘I am amazed by [Franklin’s] power. I’m reminded, by the evocative strength of the prose and the relentlessness of the imagination, of Faulkner. Franklin is a vivid portraitist of these harsh human types, and his authority in depicting the natural world “along this stretch of the Alabama River” is dazzling. I can’t believe he’s not better known, but he will be, and soon.’
PHILIP ROTH

‘This is as strong a collection as any I’ve read in recent years. The stories are collectively and individually brilliant, imbued with a high sense of Southern Gothic and a dark sense of humour.’
Chicago Tribune

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