Elements of the story are heartbreaking yet there is also humour and wonderful character development.
VANCOUVER, BC, September 27, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- The title Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter refers to the way children are taught to spell Mississippi - M I crooked letter crooked letter I crooked letter crooked letter I humpback humpback I. This was new information for me but the assumption is that most people from Mississippi understand this - even referring to the state itself as 'crooked letter'. Snakes also play a significant part in the story so there could be some additional symbolism there.
Certainly the Mississippi setting is essential to the novel. Interestingly, Tom Franklin wrote it while on a furlough in Brazil - endeavouring to remember the smell of the trees or the feel of the summer heat. Memory must have served him well as he has succeeded in capturing the atmosphere of rural Mississippi brilliantly. But Mississippi is the nation's poorest state with a legacy of racial tension that still persists in the second decade of the twenty-first century.
Now in their early forties, Silas and Larry were once - briefly - friends, albeit secret friends; their friendship would have been forbidden by both boys' families, not only because Silas is black and Larry is white but also for other reasons that we only gradually become aware of as the novel progresses. The story moves frequently between the past and the present where Silas is now the town constable while Larry is ostracized and dubbed 'scary Larry' due to his involvement in a young girl's disappearance - and presumed murder - that took place when he was a teenager. Larry and the missing girl went on a date one night and the girl was never seen again. Larry denied involvement but now lives an isolated, though responsible and orderly, life in his parents' old house - his mother, an Alzheimer's sufferer, is in a care home while his father was killed in a drunken automobile accident. Larry, a mechanic, maintains the house - and his mother's chickens - while also turning up religiously every day at his father's garage - despite the fact that he rarely, if ever, has a customer.
As the story begins, another girl has gone missing and Larry again falls under suspicion. The mystery unfolds as Larry lies in hospital, recovering from a gunshot wound. Past and present continue to intertwine, allowing the reader to gradually piece together the story. Elements of the story are heartbreaking yet there is also humour and wonderful character development. Franklin admits to consulting a black friend to perfect the nuances of Silas' character and the language and speech patterns of all the characters ring perfectly true.
It is difficult to hone in on one theme for this novel; friendship and betrayal, race, two unsolved crimes, bullying and a wonderful portrait of rural Mississippi, where the land itself is like another character, are all major aspects of a book that will leave you feeling as if you were part of life in the delta.About Prompt Proofing
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