Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Poachers: Stories Paperback – May 30, 2000
Discover Memorable Fiction Books
AbeBooks.com, an Amazon Company, recommends a unique list of must-read books. Learn More on AbeBooks.com.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"[A] startling debut collection ... darker than anything delivered since the work of James Dickey".
-- San Francisco Chronicle
"I like Tom Franklin's stories the same way I like Lucinda Williams' music, and for the same reason: they're not updating an old song. They're set in the south, sure. But they're a new song for the south. They possess an inherent sweetness even when they're rough 'n tough. And when they're funny, it's not at the world's expense. They're poignant, and I suppose their poignance comes from longing; yet not for some mossy past--because they are contemporary stories--but for the present, as it spirits away from in front of us just at the moment we notice it's arrived. These stories surprised me. They give valuable and unexpected depth to what I thought fiction could do."-- Richard Ford"Franklin writes as if his hands and mind are on fire. "Poachers plumbs raw and startling places. His stories are burning, waiting for you."-- Rick Bass"[A] startling debut collection...darker than anything delivered since the work of James Dickey."-- "San Francisco Chronicle
From the Back Cover
In ten stunning and bleak tales set in the woodlands, swamps and chemical plants along the Alabama River, Tom Franklin stakes his claim as a fresh, original Southern voice. His lyric, deceptively simple prose conjures a world where the default setting is violence, a world of hunting and fishing, gambling and losing, drinking and poaching -- a world most of us have never seen. In the chilling title novella (selected for the anthologies New Stories From the South: The Year's Best, 1999 and Best Mystery Stories of the Century), three wild boys confront a mythic game warden as mysterious and deadly as the river they haunt. And, as a weathered, handpainted sign reads: "Jesus is not coming". This terrain isn't pretty, isn't for the weak of heart, but in these desperate, lost people, Franklin somehow finds the moments of grace that make them what they so abundantly are: human.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 61%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Like the author, I occupied a liminal position in this lifestyle. Though I preferred books to bullets, I became a seasoned hunter by the age of 9. And yes, I was privy to the ceremonial bloodbath that accompanies one's first kill, and as grotesque as the experience was, even as a youth, I came to understand that this blood, my kill, was my passageway to respect from my family and the community.
Given all of this and my love for evocative, razor sharp imagery, "Poachers" occupies a certain spot in my heart. Rich in characterization and spot-on images of a society in varying states of decay (either moral, physical, or environmental), each of Franklin's stories has something to offer. Of the collection of stories, my favorite would have to be "Blue Horses," which is understated in its language and structure but powerful in its aftertaste. It will linger with you for days, to say the least. I was also fond of "Dinosaurs". Beneath its hardscrabble prose, imbued with cigarette smoke and grease, lies the essence of true filial commitment.
Given this collection was Franklin's literary debut, I am impressed with what he offers. Each story is worth reading, and most worth reading a few times over. Don't let the genre of "grit-lit" scare you from this undertaking because underneath all the grit, there is something raw and true that must be said.
The stories here are both gritty and subtle. In a word, real. Franklin captures the speech, mannerisms, and thoughts of his characters perfectly as they move through the dark and unforgiving reality of their rural southern lives.
One mistake some people make while reading southern fiction is to get caught up in the loud and raucous parts and completely miss the subtlety that makes it so powerful. Here we move silently through shadowy swamps. We wake up drunk at 5am in an icy truck cab looking for a gun. We drive past smokestacks of paper mills and rural chemical plants. We fish with dynamite. This is the world of run down trailers, misty railroad trestles, boarded up windows and rusting boxcars. These are the quiet, uncomfortable places where bad decisions get made. Through it all, however, we see and understand these lost characters through their understated grace and humanity.
Tom Franklin is a gifted writer with a deft hand. He tilts the gritty window pane of each story just so, letting in barely enough light to give us the barest glimpse of what is really going on in the depths of the misty and dangerous southern woods.
By Tom Franklin
Harper Collins, 192 pgs
Rating: Read This Book!
Poachers is a collection of 11 short stories. I have gone back to my roots with this one. I "discovered" American regional short fiction 20 years ago and my favorite region is the south. It's all so very Gothic. Spanish moss and kudzu, Appalachia and Gulf coast, alligator and Thoroughbred, Pentecostal and voodoo priestess, plantation and slave quarter. One gets the idea that the primeval is alive and lurking in Mississippi. The juxtapositions of the South are mind-boggling and Tom Franklin captures them superbly. Mr. Franklin is a talent on the same plane with the late Larry Brown, and both are heirs to Faulkner.
These are my favorite stories:
The Ballad of Duane Juarez is about the dissolution of an older brother who has to rely on (or mooch off of) his younger brother's life. These are some of the things Duane accepts and/or takes from his brother Ned: food, drink, rent, Playboy, girls, jobs, electricity. According to Duane he married for love and Ned married for money. Duane's wife divorced him and so the love went away and their was still no money. Ned is still married and still has money so he tries to "help" his big brother Duane. I get the idea Ned sort of likes this arrangement. He doesn't seem to be intentionally belittling, but his off-hand remarks could be seen as casually cruel, as he tosses crumbs to Duane in the form of day-labor assignments. Some of the things that Ned has Duane do for him include: mowing grass, raking leaves, washing his car, cleaning houses, killing cats. Yep, killing cats. Ned's wife Nina feeds a bunch of stray cats and they won't go away. Ned hates the cats and pays Duane to capture them, take them off and shoot them. We find out how Duane feels about the people in his life when he takes the cats off to be summarily executed and starts naming them. This story is not a story with a plot, but is a character study. We get to peer around inside Duane's head, and he needs a good therapist.
Poachers is the story of the 3 Gates brothers living in the backwoods of Alabama, who make their living as poachers. There's apparently nothing they won't kill and sell. This includes: fish, deer, dogs, rabbits, possums, turtle, fox. The brothers sell and barter (sometimes for moonshine, white lightnin, bad idea) the fruits of their hunt to regular customers in a netherworld that you have to see to believe, some of these places are so isolated they are accessible only by river; no electricity, no phone, no plumbing. The boys have been on their own since their father shot himself when the youngest brother was 12. He was despairing his wife's death in childbirth and the stillborn baby. So he buried them in the backyard. There is no law here.
The boys live in a ragged cabin deep in the woods; have never gone to school; can't read or write; don't bathe; eat with their hands; have no social skills; never go to town. What they understand is the instinctual. This is Deliverance, second generation. This is the sort of thing that makes the hair on my neck stand at attention. You know what creeps me out? These people have to introduce new blood every so often and so what woman do they kidnap for their nefarious purposes? Eew.
OK, anyway, the Gateses seem to be successfully skirting the edge of the cliff until the day they murder a game warden who caught them with a telephone rig in the bottom of their boat and tried to arrest them. Then they fell off the cliff. A few days later the body of the game warden is found. The sheriff calls the state wildlife commission to report the death and talks to a legendary warden by the name of Frank David, who is ascribed supernatural powers, happens to have been the dead warden's teacher and mentor. When the Gates brothers start showing up dead one by one, the sheriff knows Warden David's handiwork but cannot build a case, prove anything or even find him.
An old shopkeeper named Kirxy had known their father and has spent years trying to help the brothers. He tried to house them, feed them, send them to school, to no avail. He had to finally return them to their cabin because his wife was as freaked out as I am, see? So when Kent, the oldest brother, and Neil, the middle brother, are murdered Kirxy tries to protect Dan, the youngest. We are given a few hints in the story that it may yet be possible to save Dan. Maybe.
So please read this book. It will not appeal to everyone but I'd like to encourage you to venture out of your comfort zone. I love the short story form but I didn't know that until I ventured.