Tom Franklin 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 I thought 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 rather 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 humor, 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 and the unforgiving swamps and their inhabitants do not make for a sunshiny reading experience. As the old wooden sign in Poachers announces, "Jesus Is Not Coming." Franklin's first novel will be published in 2000 and I, for one, can't wait. --Otto Penzler

From the Back Cover:

In ten stunning and bleak tales set in the woodlands, swamps and chemical plants along the Alabama River, Tom Franklin stakes his claim as a fresh, original Southern voice. His lyric, deceptively simple prose conjures a world where the default setting is violence, a world of hunting and fishing, gambling and losing, drinking and poaching -- a world most of us have never seen. In the chilling title novella (selected for the anthologies New Stories From the South: The Year's Best, 1999 and Best Mystery Stories of the Century), three wild boys confront a mythic game warden as mysterious and deadly as the river they haunt. And, as a weathered, handpainted sign reads: "Jesus is not coming". This terrain isn't pretty, isn't for the weak of heart, but in these desperate, lost people, Franklin somehow finds the moments of grace that make them what they so abundantly are: human.

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