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Give Us A Kiss (1998)

Give Us a Kiss (1998)
3.95 of 5 Votes: 5
0671025031 (ISBN13: 9780671025038)
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Give Us A Kiss (1998)
Give Us A Kiss (1998)

About book: End of the year book report time. While crowds of people pack themselves into Times Square a couple of miles due west from me I'll give some thoughts on this particular book.I expected to love this. After Karen's glowing review of Winter's Bone. Instead of being blown away by this book I was just kind of eh about it. I just realized I only gave this three stars while giving the last couple of Crumley books I read four stars. I liked this about as much as the Crumley novels though, but I don't feel like messing with the sanctity of the original star ratings. Actually, there is a lot I like about this book more than the Crumley books. I just keep comparing them in my head because they are both prominently about folks we might off-handely call rednecks, although in both cases I think that the designation is a little weak. I think that in Woodrell's case there is something markedly different from what one would consider a redneck and what an Ozark hillbilly is. Or maybe not markedly, but different in any case. One thing I like more about this book than the Crumley novels is that this isn't about a detective. It's a crime novel, about people committing crimes. Specifically it's about an obscure writer who goes to try to talk his criminal older brother into turning himself in to the law and instead decides to join him in a scheme to harvest some marijuana and make some dough. What is great about the 'crime' going on is how small time the crime is but who serious and deadly the execution of it is. Not that I ever experienced anyone dying in the small time pot-dealers I knew in my younger days, but the whole atmosphere caught the feeling of white-trash involved in dealing with pot. It's not a high glamor heist or big score going on, but it's worth enough money that to people who are pretty fucking poor it's a pretty big deal. I would have liked the novel to be grittier. Instead the focus kept falling back on the main character and his lukewarm writing career, which makes sense; I'm fairly sure that the narrator is in some way supposed to be Woodrell. There could have been more given about some of the other characters involved in the pot growing operation. Woodrell did a great job in creating a nineteen year old nymphette who could have easily degraded into a mere object for the author to play out his fantasies of having sex with a young virgin with but instead he created in her a pretty interesting character who dreams of escaping from the hillbilly world she was born into but with dreams for a Hollywood world that she doesn't even realize no longer exists. It reminded me of people I knew growing up in the pre-internet days whose view of the world outside of the almost middle of nowhere town they lived in was a mess of stories, picked up bits of facts, rumors and hearsay that they created a livid but probably unrealistic world out of. I wanted more from this novel than I was given, but I haven't given up on Woodrell and I will be trying at least another book or two before I give up hope on him.

this will be the...5th or 6th from woodrell for w/a quote from marilyn monroe: all we demanded was our right to twinkle.and before that, 'this novel is dedicated to three ladies whose support made it happen" marian wood, ellen levine, and deborah sweet"and to the memory of my father robert lee woodrell"and then there/s this from his jazzy eulogyand he saieth, "let the trumpets and the saxophones swing, man, swing!"and grandfather pedro (peed-drow) daily "now, if a fella only knew..."--from his lips, many timeshas a foreward by pinckney benedictsounds like this pinckney character also grew up among hillbillies, these in the mountains of southern western virginia...goes into the story a bit...delivers a new term, for me anyway, a mountain william...uncle hunter, who didn't want to be called a hillbilly, having been to college...description fits the novel's protagonist, doyle the folk there in the hills have an obsession with the past...mentions another name of pancake...breece d'j pancake...a story, "trilobites"...this pancake character is the patron saint of modern hillbilly fiction...story begins"1 three finger jerksi had a family errand to run, that's all, but i decided to take a pistol. it was just a little black thirty-two ladystinger and i tucked it into the blue pillowcase that held my traveling clothes....onward & upwardupdate, finished, 20 sep 12, thursday 3:15 p.m. e.s.t.yeah, so i'm done with this one...can't help but wonder what all those long-dead holy guys of literature and art would think of this one...matthew arnold...wasn't he the one with the touchstone? or how about some of those other major statements...eliot...aristotle...plato...henry james maybe?...dryden? all the big yay=hoos......cause well, doyle, he acts like a papal-granting pope...indulgences...this story provides indulgences to those who have not had indulgences prior. almost like the establishment media, playing anal tongue darts w/fearless leader, barack "buster" obama...and well, so it goes, right?this one is not as poetic as tomato red or winter's bone...and perhaps it is earlier in the folio? does woodrell have a folio? what, exactly, is a folio? shakespeare has one...the touchstone...and...have to pause here to reflect, to try to remember if willy has any stories like this one...and, surely he must......revenge...big big...blood...heh! niagra...she names her dog damned spot! so...there exists a lineage...begats going back to willy's time.anyway...good story...imaru?
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Jan McNutt
A gritty Southern drama that is a little over the top on violence - like the Hatfields & the McCoys. I guess that stuff happens in them backwoods.Doyle Redmond, the main character, is the smart one of the bunch and left Missouri to be a writer after high school. With a handful of rarely read novels under his belt he leaves Los Angeles to check on his brother and the trouble he's been avoiding for years. Back home, all hell breaks loose with fighting, shooting, family fights, rivalries between family members and the redneck gangstas who mean bidness. Doyle falls in love with his brother's live-in girlfriend's young daughter. All the while, he left an very angry wife in California who doesn't want Doyle just the Volvo he drove out of town in, which is hers.It's a fun read. And it ends well. Doyle needs notoriety attached to his name to sell books like Norman Mailer. You'll not be surprised at how he accomplishes that.
This is my second Daniel Woodrell book (third story, though, since I've seen--and loved--the movie Winter's Bone). I'm beginning to realize that maybe I want to like him more than what I actually do. I thought I would fall in love with this writer, but what I'm finding is inconsistency of voice and, at least in the case of this book and The Death of Sweet Mister, a cast of characters so unlikable that there is no one to grab on to. I think there were some interesting ideas brought up in Give Us a Kiss, including the idea of fate and if we can ever escape either or raising or our DNA (or, in some cases, are home place). I also thought the brotherly relationship between Smoke and Doyle was interesting, but usually just felt superficial. Perhaps the real problem was that this book just felt dated. From Smoke's hillbilly dread locks to Doyle's talk of past lives (something I never really got a handle on) it just felt like yesterday's fad, which is disappointing. Also, I love first person narration and I really do like to hear a story told in the real, gritty, place-based voice of the narrator, but Doyle's voice was so annoying, so pushed that it because fake. I might give one more Woodrell book a chance--maybe the collection of short stories--before I call it quits for good.
A great read. This is the first book I've read by Woodrell, but I'm definitely going to run out and find a few more. He stakes claim to the Ozarks with force and in my mind, when it comes to crime fiction, he now owns them.While I enjoy crime novels set in cities, it is a rare treat to read a novel set in a rural setting that is both authentic and well-written. A novel that doesn't slum, but embraces the inhabitants of the small town.This book made me almost glad that I caught a head cold, as it gave me the opportunity to read something really good in practically one sitting.
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