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Winter's Bone Hardcover – August 7, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Woodrell flirts with—but doesn't succumb to—cliché in his eighth novel, a luminescent portrait of the poor and desperate South that drafts 16-year-old Ree Dolly, blessed with "abrupt green eyes," as its unlikely heroine. Ree, too young to escape the Ozarks by joining the army, cares for her two younger brothers and mentally ill mother after her methamphetamine-cooking father, Jessup, disappears. Recently arrested on drug charges, Jessup bonded out of jail by using the family home as collateral, but with a court date set in one week's time and Jessup nowhere to be found, Ree has to find him—dead or alive—or the house will be repossessed. At its best, the novel captures the near-religious criminal mania pervasive in rural communities steeped in drug culture. Woodrell's prose, lyrical as often as dialogic, creates an unwieldy but alluring narrative that allows him to draw moments of unexpected tenderness from predictable scripts: from Ree's fearsome, criminal uncle Teardrop, Ree discovers the unshakable strength of family loyalty; from her friend Gail and her woefully dependant siblings, Ree learns that a faith in kinship can blossom in the face of a bleak and flawed existence. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–In the poverty-stricken hills of the Ozarks, Rees Dolly, 17, struggles daily to care for her two brothers and an ill mother. When she learns that her absent father, a meth addict, has put up the family home as bond, she embarks on a dangerous search to find him and bring him home for an upcoming court date. Her relatives, many of whom are in the business of cooking crank, thwart her at every turn, but her fight to save the family finally succeeds. Rees is by turns tough and tender. She teaches her brothers how to shoot a shotgun, and even box, the way her father had taught her. Her hope is that these boys would not be dead to wonder by age twelve, dulled to life, empty of kindness, boiling with mean. A male friend feeds her hallucinogenic mushrooms and then assaults her. But, like Mattie Ross in Charles Portis's True Grit (Penguin, 1995), Rees beats the odds with spunk and courage. In spare but evocative prose, Woodrell depicts a harsh world in which the responsibilities for survival ultimately give Rees meaning and direction. He depicts the landscape, people, and dialects with stunning realism. A compelling testament to how people survive in the worst of circumstances.–Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, Va
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (August 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031605755X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316057554
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (376 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

This book was a quick read- I just couldn't put it down.
Amazon Customer
She makes me wonder just how many people are there like her in the real world who have such depth of character, but will live and die anonymously.
Amazon Customer
In addition to the beautiful writing and language the author has managed to create a story that is both heartbreaking and poignant.
Kat Rags

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

185 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Mary Reinert on August 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Woodrell has definitely captured what it is like to live in a subculture that is so isolated from the bigger world around it. The Ozark area is such a paradox of beautiful lodges and resorts and, on the other hand, pockets of isolated, poverty-stricken rural poor. Woodrell's portrayal of the Dolly clan is, unfortunately, not unbelievable.

Ree's search for her father who has skipped his bail reflects a parallel search for a better life; she doesn't know where to look for him and her only idea of a better life for herself is to join the Army. The effects that meth have had on the rural poor is devastating. That together with generations of family hardships, feuds, intermarriage, and poverty paints a pretty depressing picture.

I live in Missouri and have just now discovered Woodrell. He calls his writing "Country Noir" which is truly an apt description. This isn't a pretty book, but it is an honest one and one that I would highly recommend for those looking to meet characters not found in most other writing.
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161 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Starved for It on August 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Twenty years ago Jewel Cobb dragged a comb through his greasy, antique pompadour and in that brilliant moment Daniel Woodrell announced his intention to entertain a readership. Predictably Mr. Cobb did not survive that novel, Mr. Woodrell has gone on to publish eight of them and become a leading contender for the title of Most Underappreciated Writer in America (campaigning in the heavyweight division).

It may be that the very voices decrying Woodrell's lack of popular acceptance are at least partly responsible for it. The laudatory reviews, and they are finally numerous, tend toward the use of adjectives like 'dark,' and 'bleak,' and, 'lyrical,' and these suggest literary heavy sledding, reading reminiscent of a high school English assignment. It must be conceded that Woodrell is a serious writer, a purveyor of social outrage and dismay at the human condition, but not a page of his work passes without something to laugh at, cringe from, fret over--in other words the vicarious experience that is the stuff of ENTERTAINMENT.

In 'Winter's Bone' Woodrell continues to make good on his old promise. Though 'Bone' is not as consistently funny as some of his previous books it is a glistening showcase of an ever maturing and deepening compassion. America has no patience for her poor and feels it is in the poorest taste when the underclass is anything but invisible. Classism remains our most pervasive and acceptable prejudice. It is into the teeth of this nasty attitude that Woodrell flings the wonderful, large humanity of his people. Ree Dolly is the latest and most finely drawn of these Woodrellian characters. To read 'Winter's Bone' is to be instructed and ennobled, but really Woodrell means no harm by it. His trick, his art, is to make the hard lesson savory.
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74 of 80 people found the following review helpful By David Beck on February 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Why Daniel Woodrell is not a household name says much about literacy in America. Having read most of his books, I can't help thinking, Why don't more people know him? Why don't bookstores carry his novels? Why doesn't someone turn this book into a movie?

Anyway, Winter Bones is one of his best. It is a novel about a young girl who is on a journey of discovery, a discovery not just about her meth lab cooker dad but about herself. It is a picaresque novel, much like Portis's True Grit. She finds "justice" at a cost, but her determination and heart, to keep her family from homelessness, makes her one of America's most down-on-her-luck, inspirational characters in contemporary lit.

Woodrell fills his novels with great descriptions and dialogue. He creates characters whom you wouldn't want necessarily to meet, but are still intriguing, sympathetic and compelling.

Great book! Great author! Read Winter Bones and all of Woodrell's books. Maybe the word will get out, so that authors like Woodrell will be more well-known and praised like a lot of less-worthy authors.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By D. Munro on January 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Daniel Woodrell has a way with words, and if you're a fan of his work it's the language that seduces you. His plots are earthy, celebrate the lives of those whose values are bent by the fires of hard luck. He has the magic of voice in earlier novels, speaking in the first person, giving his characters an innocent honesty combined with intelligence and ignorance in just the right tragic mix.
Winter's bone starts at a slower pace than his other books. Sixteen year old Ree Dolly, of the infamous no-good Dollys, a poor and violent outlaw clan, is the center of the story, and it's told from the third person. At first you wonder if Woodrell can get this thing rolling, but before you know it the vernacular has crept in and the situation and the girl are compelling, you've got to find out what happens. It gets pretty grisly, in a satisfying way. I mean to say it gets rough, more or less true to life rough, though spiffed up for dramatic effect.
There are so many good lines in this book you could genuinely call it a great poem, in the same club with Ted Hughs's "Crow". What makes the language so great is what Woodrell is so good at, mixing the vernacular with high language, with close observation, with humor and surprising but apt connections, with music in the sounds and light and shadow in the images, with affection for all of creation, no matter how low.
Winter's Bone has you shivering in the heavy snow with Ree in her grandma's coat and bare legs, trying to keep the family together, give her little brothers a chance for a better life.
To my mind, this is great art, though I will say I think Woodrell's plots are mainly scaffolds to hang the words and characters on. I am rarely satisfied by his plots, but I don't think the plots are what's important in Woodrell's work. He butts you up against life's essence so close you can smell skin and feel heat.
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