Winter’s Bone

Daniel Woodrell

First Sentence: Ree Dolly stood at break of day on her cold front steps and smelled coming flurries and saw meat.

What a great book this is. You can tell from the opener that there’s a hint of Cormac McCarthy here. You can also tell from the opener that it is not your run of the mill writing style. Often poetic and brutal, this is a beautifully written novel. Set in the Ozarks, it tells the story of teenager Ree Dolly whose father has been missing for some time. Left alone to look after her ailing mother and two younger brothers, she sets out to find him when she discovers that they will lose their home if he does not turn up for a court appearance. She is fearful for their future and worries that her brothers will be

Dead to wonder by age twelve, dulled to life, empty of kindness, boiling with mean.

Such is life in this desolate place. And so begins a memorable tale of woe and misfortune, one which really makes you feel for the protagonist, a girl who is instantly likable. This is one of those great books, similar to Everything Ravaged Everything Burned in the way that it can picked up and read on pretty much any page, just to savour the gorgeous use of language. A real treat.

* * * *

Last Sentence: Wheels.

Last Sentence explained:   At the end here Ree is saying that the first thing they are going to buy with their money is wheels. After being brutally beaten for snooping too close to home, she finally manages to prove her father is dead  (although she did have the unenviable job of cutting off his hands in order to do so). With this knowledge her house is saved, and there is also the unexpected bonus of cash from his bail bond man. It all works out in the end though somehow with this book it doesn’t really feel like it. All that has gone before is not easily forgotten, or made better by money…

Random quotes from the book:

“Pine trees with low limbs spread over fresh snow make a stronger vault for the spirit than pews and pulpits ever could.”

“Ice hung from the roof eaves, catching dribbles of melt to become longer and stouter pickets of jagged freeze stretched across the window above the sink.”

“There was an echo in her eye.”

“Branches overhead rent the sunlight into jigsaw pieces that fell to the ground as a jumble of bright shards and deckled crescents.”

“One log alone won’t hold fire.”

“I’m a Dolly, bred ‘n buttered.”

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