The Outlaw Album

Daniel Woodrell

First Sentence:    Once Boshell finally killed his neighbor he couldn’t seem to quit killing him.

This isn’t the first book of Daniel Woodrell’s that I’ve read and it won’t be the last. I hope. It’s actually the second, the first being the rather excellent Winter’s Bone . As someone who much prefers novels to short stories I must say that this is a very impressive collection indeed. Take the first story for example, which is exactly what I have done for the ‘first sentence last sentence’ treatment. It is only a few pages long yet is a perfect example of Woodrell’s talent. It is more enthralling than a lot of lesser novels. The story, The Echo of Neighborly Bones, is a brief, brutal glimpse into the lives of these Ozark characters, which is both highly disturbing and yet utterly believable at the same time. So overall, this is a great collection which stands alongside Winter’s Bone very well, though I think next time I’ll have to start reading some more uplifting stories after reading Knockemstiff, followed by Ablutions, and now this…

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Last Sentence:    He tapped the ground with the gig as he walked, and started down the dry creek bed, splashing light over all those rocks, whistling like a child.

Last Sentence explained:     This story really just highlights the frustrations felt by most of Woodrell’s characters, be they rapists, Iraq war veterans or inbred drug addicts, and the stories themselves, compared to the characters and the language, are almost a sideline. Here we have a man, Boshell, so fed up with his existence, he takes his rage out on the corpse of his neighbour. A neighbour he killed.. Really though it is the writing (with the stories an added bonus) that shines in this book. Definitely worth a read, though not if you’re looking for a book that will make you feel better…

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