Originally published at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
This book is quite possibly the most surprising thing I’ve read in a while. I have to admit that since I’ve been doing a lot more review reading (meaning, reading books that I’ve agreed to read and review rather than books that just seem interesting to me), I’ve been pleasantly surprised quite a few times. I put off reading this novel because honestly, I wasn’t sure it was my type of book. I am SO glad I decided to read it. It’s taken me a few days to write this review as this book did something to my brain. This is NOT a happy book. Not by any means. But it’s almost the type of book that NEEDS to written and to be read.
The Good: From the introduction (which was written by Dan Woodrell by the way, amazing introduction) to the very end of the novel, the writing was superb. I gobbled this gem up in about a day and a half and I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the text. Very early on, we get the sense that the main character, John is screwed. I never had a doubt that poor John was getting the shaft in this novel. His one mistake (the title aptly referring to that mistake) leads him on a wild-goose chase that just perpetuates a multitude of other mistakes. I honestly felt bad for John. Even though I’m not from the “backwoods” or “hillbilly” country, I have relatives that live somewhat similarly as the characters in this novel. Maybe that is why I felt like I knew John or at least knew him as a type of man. I’ve seen his type of man so many times. This made the novel more interesting because I felt I had a stake in what happened to John and what he was doing, saying and experiencing. The author did an exceptional job of peppering the novel with a certain redneck slang/dialect. It was perfect, not too much, not too over the top but just enough to know that’s EXACTLY the type of people talking. I enjoy when an author can pull this off, dialect is HARD to master but it was done exceptionally well. The author also managed to pull off a lot of internalizing and internal dialogue. Mostly, I’m not a huge fan of this in novels, but it was so masterfully done that I hardly noticed until the end that a huge chunk of the novel is actually John responding to things, thinking about things etc. The thing about this novel is that nothing really good ever happens. Maybe for some people that would deter them from reading this novel, but not me. You just know from the beginning that this novel isn’t one of those happy/hopeful novels. It’s just not. It speaks to the melancholy part of the soul. It tells the story of a good person who gets the raw end of the deal in life and is never able to escape that life. The thing is, no matter how many times someone tells you that good things will happen to good people, what they don’t tell you is that bad things happen to good people too. No one wants to talk about it but that is ultimately what this book is about. The bad things that happen to a good person and set in motion a string of events that furthers this notion. I’m sure there are about a hundred other things I could say about this novel but I’ve been rambling enough. Just go read it! You won’t be sorry.
The Bad: Nothing!
I give this novel an A! I highly recommend this novel for those who do not shy away from heavy thinking novels or novels that don’t have a happy theme attached to it. If anything, read this book for the beautiful writing!
**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.