Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011:
A woman living in an abandoned rural lodge is suddenly forced to raise her dead sister's two wild young children. Neither of them has spoken a word since witnessing their mother's brutal murder, and they’ve developed a fondness for breaking things and starting fires. These mute, trouble-making kids are among Charles Frazier
’s finest characters. And when their ne'er-do-well father is acquitted and released from jail, the action in this lush and lively novel flares. With sharp dialogue, unexpected humor, and a powerful ability to depict the scents and sounds of loamy Carolina backwoods, while toying with fire and water as his themes, Frazier has crafted an impressive story, proving that Cold Mountain
was no fluke. --Neal Thompson A Letter from Author Charles Frazier
Lost in the woods. A dangerous phrase, but also with a resonance of folktale. Hansel and Gretel with their bread crumbs. Jack alone, roaming the lovely, dark, and deep southern mountains. So, young people and old people being lost in the woods has always been interesting to me for those reasons. And also because it happens all the time still.
Back when I was a kid, eight or ten, my friends and I lived with a mountain in our backyards. We stayed off it in summer. Too hot and snaky. But in the cool seasons, we roamed freely. We carried bb guns in the fall and rode our sleds down old logging roads in winter. We often got lost. But we knew that downhill was the way out, the way home. When I grew up and went into bigger mountains, you couldn’t always be so sure. I remember being lost in Bolivia. Or let’s say that I grew increasingly uncertain whether I was still on the trail or not. That’s the point where you ought to sit down and drink some water and consult your maps and compass very carefully and calmly. I kept walking. At some point, it became a matter of rigging ropes to swing a heavy pack over a scary white watercourse. I ended up at a dropoff. Down far below, upper reaches of the Amazon basin stretched hazy green into the distance. Downhill did not at all seem like the way home.
You’ll just have to trust me that this has something to do with my new novel, but to go into it much would risk spoilers. I’ll just say that early on in the writing of Nightwoods, Luce and the children were meant to be fairly minor characters, but I kept finding myself coming back to them, wanting to know more about them until they became the heart of the story. Some of my wanting to focus on them was surely influenced by several cases of kids lost in the woods in areas where I’m typically jogging and mountain biking alone at least a hundred days a year. It’s part of my writing process, though I hardly ever think about work while I’m in the woods. But I do keep obsessive count of how many miles a day I go and how many words I write, lots of numbers on 3x5 notecards. All those days watching the micro changes of seasons can’t help but become part of the texture of what I write, and those lost kids, too.
Praise for Nightwoods:"Nightwoods is no typical thriller
….its dazzling sentences are so meticulously constructed that you find yourself rereading them, trying to unpack their magic...the unhurried, poetic suspense is both difficult to bear and IMPOSSIBLE TO SHAKE
... an Appalachian Gothic with a low-level fever that runs alternately warm and chilling.” —The Washington Post
“No writer today crafts more exquisite sentences than Charles Frazier.
” —USA Today
“ASTUTE AND COMPASSIONATE
. . .a virtuoso construction . . . with wickedly wry dialogue reminiscent of the best of Charles Portis, Larry Brown, and Cormac McCarthy.” —The Boston Glob
“HIS BEST BOOK TO DATE
. Frazier’s exquisitely efficient style is matched by some finely tuned suspense.” —The Times (London)
“Frazier has taken a fast-paced genre and subverted it at every turn
, offering a closer look at the nature of good and evil and how those forces ebb and flow over time.” —Atlanta Journal Constitution
"...[A] taut narrative of love and suspense, told against a gritty background of bootlegging and violence. The characters are rich and unforgettable, and the prose almost lyrical. This is Charles Frazier at his best
. ...Just mention a new novel by the Cold Mountain
author, and a line will start forming."
"...[T]hink Thunder Road meets Night of the Hunter meets old murder ballads.
This is a suspenseful noir nightmare, complete with bootleggers and switchblades."
—The Daily Beast
“The story makes the book more than worthwhile
, and the writing is as good as anything Frazier has created so far. …[G]ripping story and engaging characters.” — Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
“[E]ngages your deep interest.... The book’s ending is masterful, gratifying
suspense-seekers as well as readers who like things working on many levels.” — Asheville Citizen-Times
“The characters are expertly molded
from the very land they inhabit, calling attention to the shallowness of the grave in which our more violent past is buried.” — BookPage
PRAISE FOR CHARLES FRAZIER Cold Mountain
“Natural-born storytellers come along only rarely. Charles Frazier joins the ranks of that elite cadre on the first page of his astonishing debut.”—Newsweek
“Prose filled with grace notes and trenchant asides . . . a Whitmanesque foray into America: into its hugeness, its freshness, its scope and its soul . . . such a memorable book.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A rare and extraordinary book . . . heart-stopping . . . spellbinding.”—San Francisco Chronicle Thirteen Moons
“A boisterous, confident novel that draws from the epic tradition: It tips its hat to Don Quixote
as well as Twain and Melville, and it boldly sets out to capture a broad swatch of America’s story in the mid-nineteenth century.”—The Boston Globe
“Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details—he has a scholar’s command of the physical realities of early America and a novelist’s gift for bringing them to life.”—Time
“Magical . . . fascinating and moving . . . You will find much to admire and savor in Thirteen Moons