The Maid's Version



[PDF / Epub] ☉ The Maid's Version Author Daniel Woodrell – E17streets4all.co.uk The American master s first novel since Winter s Bone tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid f The American master s first novel since Winter s Bone tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen The Maid's MOBI :ò and his family in West Table, Missouri Her husband is mostly absent, and, in , her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of thekilled in an explosion at the local dance hall Who is to blame Mobsters from St Louis The embittered local gypsies The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples Or could it have been a colossal accident Alma thinks she knows the answer and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair Her dogged pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long standing rift with her own son By telling her story to her grandson, she finally gains some solace and peace for her sister He is advised to Tell it Go on and tell it tell the story of his family s struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs.The Maid's Version

Growing up in Missouri, seventy miles downriver from Hannibal, Mark Twain was handed to me early on, first or second grade, and captivated me for years, and forever, I reckon Robert Louis Stevenson had his seasons with me just before The Maid's MOBI :ò my teens and I love him yet There are too many others to mention, I suppose, but feel compelled to bring up Hemingway, James Agee, Flannery O Connor, John McGahern, Knut Hamsun, Faulkner, George Mackay Brown, Tillie Olsen, WS Merwin, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Andrew Hudgins, Seamus Heaney, Derek WolcoDaniel Woodrell was born and now lives in the Missouri Ozarks He left school and enlisted in the Marines the week he turned seventeen, received his bachelor s degree at age twenty seven, graduated from the Iowa Writer s Workshop, and spent a year on a Michener Fellowship His five most recent novels were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and Tomato Red won the PEN West award for the novel in Winter s Bone is his eighth novel.

The Maid's Version Epub · The Maid's  MOBI :ò
    The Maid's Version Epub · The Maid's MOBI :ò pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long standing rift with her own son By telling her story to her grandson, she finally gains some solace and peace for her sister He is advised to Tell it Go on and tell it tell the story of his family s struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs."/>
  • Audio CD
  • 4 pages
  • The Maid's Version
  • Daniel Woodrell
  • English
  • 13 November 2017
  • 147892456X

10 thoughts on “The Maid's Version

  1. says:

    Have to read a whole goddam novel about baseball, only it s not really about baseball, see, it s about sad assed stuff I already know all I need to know about, but there will be a test and that s the foundation of it, right woodrell s characters inhabit their world, and we are all just tourists, reading it to be entertained by his stories of these resolute downtrodden folks in their sad assed circumstances, while for them, it is just life and they have already been tested we require the winHave to read a whole goddam novel about baseball, only it s not really about baseball, see, it s about sad assed stuff I already know all I need to know about, but there will be a test and that s the foundation of it, right woodrell s characters inhabit their world, and we are all just tourists, reading it to be entertained by his stories of these resolute downtrodden folks in their sad assed circumstances, while for them, it is just life and they have already been tested we require the window dressing of, say, baseball in order to understand what they have learned from life.but he neverever writes window dressing he is always the opposite clear, stripped down windows showing us stark and unsung characters, knowing shit we only think we know.woodrell is an astonishingly good writer, and the four stars i gave this book shouldn t be any indication of its lacking anything at all my star ratings are inconsistent and personal, and a four here only means that there are books of his i have liked better for many people, this would be a five star read, no question.phew, now that that s out of the way.this is a novel about a mysterious explosion at a dancehall in missouri in 1929 that killed 42 people among the dead is ruby, the beautiful and free spirited younger sister of alma degeer dunahew, now the grandmother of ten year old alek, the primary narrator, who tells him what she knows of the story when he comes to live with her for a summer in 1965 thirty six years after the events, she still has suspicions about the cause of the explosion, and her sister s role in it suspicions which have cost her dearly throughout her long life decades after that summer, at an eerie memorial ceremony at the monument to those who died in the explosion, alek is encouraged, finally, to divulge what alma told him all those years ago. than crime fiction,than the answer to a question, this is a celebration of lives cut off too soon it is a mosaic character study, where the voices of many of the soon to be dead commingle to create a portrait of a small town with its various secrets and relationships and its hopes and crimes and resentments it is not exactly a novel in stories, but it frequently reads like one some characters are given a lot of space to tell their story, and some only appear for a two page chapter but they all contribute to the interlocking narrative not necessarily because they have particular relevance to the explosion itself, but because they existed they died they are part of the story, if not its resolution.and that s what is so great about woodrell in 165 pages, he gives us this huge chorus of story quilt pieces that satisfies all the criteria of a mystery novel, but also provides so much additional tonal substance that a traditional mystery novelist would have omitted in order to make everything mean something, as unrealistic and blatantly constructed as that is but this means , overall you aren t pleased at the end with the structure of the puzzle, the foreshadowing you didn t note at the time, the triumphant reveal by the brilliant detective there isn t any triumph here there isn t, in the real world there are just a bunch of sad assed circumstances and a lot of voices that never get heard and these are the very voices woodrell always celebrates so well and so tastefully let s say four and a halfcome to my blog

  2. says:

    The Maid s Version Daniel Woodrell s Change of Direction Donald Woodrell, Off Square Books, Oxford, Ms., September 11, 2013It has been seven years since Daniel Woodrell wrote his last novel,

  3. says:

    The thing about small towns and secrets is that usually there aren t really that many secrets there are just unpleasant things that aren t discussed openly.West Table, Missouri, has one of these uncomfortable topics after an explosion destroyed a dance hall and killed dozens of people in 1929 There is no shortage of rumors about various causes of the disaster, but that s just the buzz disguising the real story Listen carefully enough and the underlying truth is there, but most of the locals w The thing about small towns and secrets is that usually there aren t really that many secrets there are just unpleasant things that aren t discussed openly.West Table, Missouri, has one of these uncomfortable topics after an explosion destroyed a dance hall and killed dozens of people in 1929 There is no shortage of rumors about various causes of the disaster, but that s just the buzz disguising the real story Listen carefully enough and the underlying truth is there, but most of the locals would prefer that it never be revealed.Alma Dunahew was a poor maid with three kids she could barely feed as she worked for a prosperous banker when the explosion occurred and killed her younger sister Ruby Alma believes she knows what happened, but since no one is interested in hearing it, she is eventually shunned and driven half mad by the willful blindness of the town It s only years later that she finally reveals the true story to her grandson Alek.A simple summary like that makes this book seemlinear andof a mystery than it actually is Daniel Woodrell tells this like an old person recounting a long story with frequent digressions and skipping back and forth through time It s not enough to understand what happened at the dance hall, he wants to make sure you understand why it happened and how it effected everyone with the slightest connection to it.Despite the rambling nature of how it s told, it s still a short tale at 164 pages, but even though it s not a long book, when the reader gets to the end, they ll understand each and every character and what part they played.This seemed a bit different from other Woodrell books I ve read like Winter s Bone in that it hada dreamy quality to the writing It drifts, it doesn t walk a straight line, but it still shows that the man delivers maximum story for minimum page counts.You can readabout Woodrell and the real story behind this fictionalized version of it here

  4. says:

    Daniel Woodrell, as usual, proves that you don t need to write a doorstopper sized sprawling flowery epic to paint a vivid picture of an entire community and bring it to life in all its drama, secrets, heartbreaks and pain.In crisp economical prose, in the short 170 or so pages Woodrell brings us a story of the entire town through a tragedy the community experienced in the late 1920s, a dance hall explosion that remains unsolved decades laterHer personal account of the Arbor Dance Hall e Daniel Woodrell, as usual, proves that you don t need to write a doorstopper sized sprawling flowery epic to paint a vivid picture of an entire community and bring it to life in all its drama, secrets, heartbreaks and pain.In crisp economical prose, in the short 170 or so pages Woodrell brings us a story of the entire town through a tragedy the community experienced in the late 1920s, a dance hall explosion that remains unsolved decades laterHer personal account of the Arbor Dance Hall explosion of 1929, how forty two dancers from this small corner of the Missouri Ozarks had perished in an instant, waltzing couples murdered midstep, blown toward the clouds in a pink mist chased by towering flames, and why it happenedThe explosion did not just take way the lives of forty two people but through countless strings and connections altered and shaped and shattered other lives, many of which are given voices some , some less, but enough to create a chorus out of which the tragedy takes shapeThe town was represented from high to low, the disaster spared no class or faith, cut into every neighborhood and congregation, spread sadness with an indifferent aim The well dressed and stunned, the sincere in bibs and broken shoes, sat side by side and sang the hymns they had in commonThrough interconnected vignettes set before, during and after the tragedy we get quick glimpses into the lives that got disrupted by a force nobody could have predicted, a chain of consequences and choices that led to the tragic ending of a warm Saturday evening the stories that have no real satisfying endings because of the abrupt cruel stop that was put to themThe couple were to visit his mother s people out at Rover, but the regular Arbor pianist had been stranded out at Cape Girardeau, and Lucille reluctantly agreed to sit in with the house band so the dance could proceed and her friends could frolic Ollie sat on a windowsill with a smile that never wilted The explosion sent them in different directions, and three days later he identified Lucille by the brooch that had burned deeply into her chestThese stories wind their ways through time, intertwining in the unexpected places, shedding light onto the new unexpected angles, and from it emerges the portrait of community, with a spotlight on the few the titular maid Alma DeGeer DunahewGrief has chomped on her like wolves do a calf, her spirited sister Ruby, Ruby s illicit lover and one of the local pillars of community Arthur Glencross, and Alma s son John Paul Dunahew, all seen through Woodrell s trademark apt phrasing that makes them step off the page and into lifeAlma touched all twenty eight and kissed them each, kneeling to kiss the fresh black paint between her spread aching fingers, said the same words to accompany every kiss because there was no way to know which box of wood held Ruby, or if she rested in only one, had not been separated into parts by crushing or flames and interred in two or three, so she treated every box as though her sister was inside in parts or whole and cried to the lastAs always, Woodrell focuses on the shadier and darker bits of human existence No, there s no meth in this story, it being 1920s after all, but there is alcohol and the degradation that comes with too much of a good thing There is ignorance and physical brutality There is oppressive crushing poverty that never changes, regardless of the century, and the heavy weight of inevitable resentment fueled by glaring differences between those who have the means to escape poverty and those who are the perpetual have notsShe hated that she fed another man s children before she fed her own She cleared the supper table, the plates yet rife with food in this house of plenty, potatoes played with, bread crusts stacked on the tablecloth unwanted, meat bones set aside with enough shreds on them to set her own sons fighting one another for a chance to gnaw them clean and white Her own sons sucked cold spuds at home, waitingWoodrell s books always leave behind a quiet uneasy feeling once the last page is turned This one is no exception to this It s my third Woodrell, and now I have no doubt that in the near future I will read every single book he has written and will write because they are fully worth every minute you spend reading them 4 stars My reviews of other books by Daniel Woodrell Winter s BoneTomato Red

  5. says:

    Woodrell has moved beyond the confines of hillbilly noir His prose is so economical, his ability to delineate a character or describe an action so efficient, that The Maid s Version can contain all the vivid settings, complex characters, illuminating subplots and pleasant digressions of an old fashioned five hundred page novel, all in the course of 45,000 words He is a master of compressed, oblique story telling, and the tale he tells is a good one, showing what destructive forces can be unlea Woodrell has moved beyond the confines of hillbilly noir His prose is so economical, his ability to delineate a character or describe an action so efficient, that The Maid s Version can contain all the vivid settings, complex characters, illuminating subplots and pleasant digressions of an old fashioned five hundred page novel, all in the course of 45,000 words He is a master of compressed, oblique story telling, and the tale he tells is a good one, showing what destructive forces can be unleashed when love, class and jealousy collide in a small Arkansas town

  6. says:

    The Maid s Version is a novella that if judged by any paragraph would seem to be a virtuoso mystery, overflowing with Ozarks detail, Jazz Age atmosphere and brooding mood Published in 2013 as Daniel Woodrell s follow up to the remarkable Winter s Bone, this effort feels like it was constructed of leftovers, the tragedy of Ree Dolly s great great grandmother perhaps, and with no strong central character or organizing detail comes out to an attractive mess Every reader reaches a point where they The Maid s Version is a novella that if judged by any paragraph would seem to be a virtuoso mystery, overflowing with Ozarks detail, Jazz Age atmosphere and brooding mood Published in 2013 as Daniel Woodrell s follow up to the remarkable Winter s Bone, this effort feels like it was constructed of leftovers, the tragedy of Ree Dolly s great great grandmother perhaps, and with no strong central character or organizing detail comes out to an attractive mess Every reader reaches a point where they expect an author to stop setting the table and serve them a meal and Woodrell table dresses away, never emerging from the kitchen.In the first loop of a crazy straw design, the story begins in the summer of 1965 in the fictional town of West Table located in a small corner of the Missouri Ozarks An adult Alek Dunahew recalls the summer of his twelfth year, in which his father, making an effort toward reconciliation with his estranged mother, sends the boy away from their river town outside of St Louis to spend time with his grandmother Alma DeGeer Dunahew, lonely, old and proud, refuses to be referred to as Grandma or Mamaw She lives in the back room of the house of her last employers, the Teagues, who she served as a maid.Alek is aware that something bad surrounds the death of Alma s sister Ruby, among forty two who perished in the Arbor Dance Hall explosion of 1929, an accident which has remained unsolved and broke the town Alek s father, a hard drinking U.S Navy veteran attending college on the G.I Bill, has offered to discuss his aunt s death with his son when he s older, but that summer, Alma actually, Woodrell begins to brush the earth off the remains of Ruby DeGeer, a footloose bachelorette who at the time of her death was having an affair with Alma s employer, Mr Arthur Glencross, president of Citizens Bank and a civic hero Ruby DeGeer didn t mind breaking hearts, but she liked them to shatter coolly, with no ugly scenes of departure where an arm got twisted behind her back by a crying man, or her many failings and damp habits were made specific in words shouted out an open window Accepting boredom did not come easily for her, and some men could bore her beyond courtesy before the first drink was drained or the key rattled into a hotel room door, but if she liked a fella, then he knew unleashed marvels until didn t any and in their fresh agony the heartbroken twisted her arm crying or yelled her business into the street She d known poverty from birth but been blessed with pizzazz and understood early that life was a fight and she couldn t win even one round if she kept her best hand tied behind her back If men were smitten by her lyric eyes and fluctuating mounds and scented sashay, well, let them display their feelings in meaningful ways clothes, hats, rent, a big weekend at the Peabody in Memphis, a morning visit on Christmas Day when they ought to be home with their wives and children but couldn t stay away, just couldn t do it, just can t.Many other characters pass through the narrative, some related to Ruby s death, others related in an ancestral way Alma s father Cecil DeGeer was born of wealth before he blew his inheritance on drink and gambling and disowned by the family, ended up owning with the bank a twenty five acre farm near West Table Taken out of school in the third grade to work the land, Alma s little sister Ruby never gets that far, and long after their father becomes an abusive drunk, Alma runs away at age fifteen to work in town Ruby is thirteen when the old man dies and she goes to live with Alma, who finds her work as an apprentice laundress.Arthur Glencross comes from assistant merchants who did well enough to send their academically excelling son to state university in Columbia, where he completed two years of college before a reversal of family fortune calls him home to West Table, where he takes a job at Citizens Bank and to his surprise, is wooed by Corinne Jarman, a local princess Presented with a huge house as a wedding present, within four years of working at the bank, Arthur is promoted to vice president and during the Great Depression, is credited with keeping the bank solvent Inexperienced sexually and taking a bride who expressed little to no interest in it, Arthur s is left to his own devices.Alma meets Maurice Buster Dunahew, a sign painter who marries Alma in 1916 before enlisting in the Great War, from which he returns evendespondent and becomes a drunk Buster ultimately goes sober and accepts a job as driver for Arthur Glencross, but dies in a confusing car accident twenty three days before the Arbor Dance Hall explosion The hall was operated by Freddy Polz, once Walter Plug Reinemann, a St Louis street tough who left that life after watching his employer gunned down Located by hoodlums, Plug is asked to warehouse dynamite to be used in a bank robbery The dance hall explosion changes the fortunes of Alma and her children At age ten, John Paul Dunahew was on his own and raided gardens for supper after midnight He d been without all other kin since the twelfth of November when Alma became bizarre beyond civic tolerance and was taken to live at the Work Farm Sidney had very recently completed his haunting, brutal, audibly and visibly grotesque death inside the Dunahew shack, James had carried away only a Barlow knife with a bent blade and stolen gloves as he fled the region , and he chased anything that resulted in coins, delivered two of the three daily newspapers Locatormornings, Scrollafternoons and both of the weeklies Gazette, Journaland kept his few belongings schoolbooks, a Big Chief tablet of paper with pencil stub, two sets of underwear made from glass bleached flour sack, another shirt made of the same, and a big wooden spoon in a burlap bag The Work Farm expected him to supply four bits a week toward his mother s upkeep and he did so and delivered it on foot, though he was seldom allowed to visit privately with her as she was not currently resident within her skin and they weren t sure who or what was He could not then and would not ever seem able to rest or sit idle rest was dangerous for the poor, he knew that, too many thoughts of ordained and burgeoning unworthiness came to the impoverished when idle and ruined them thoroughly from the inside out He knew that before he could say it and made himself stay on the move even when there was no place worthwhile to go He rose in darkness all my childhood and after he sat smoking Pall Malls on the back stoop and drinking instant coffee before the sun arrived and hustled at any task that promised payment.The wonderful thing about The Maid s Version is that Woodrell s prose is so jeweled, so absorbing, that block paragraphs like this are actually a pleasure to read Like Winter s Bone, this novella transported me to the Missouri Ozarks, a region where poverty is genetic, generations live on the same crick or holler if not in the same shack and where there are no secrets, but there s also no one willing to speak them in polite company It s a remarkably vivid atmosphere for a mystery and there s a strong one in this story, based loosely on the West Plains, Missouri dance hall explosion in 1928 which killed thirty six Woodrell can flat out write Trains have haunted the nights in West Table since 1883 and disrupt sleep and taunt those awakened The trains beating past toward the fabled beyond, the sound of each wheel thump singing, You re going nowhere, you re going nowhere, and these wheels are, they are, they are going far from where you lie listening in your smallness and will still lie small at dawn after they are gone from hearing, rolling on singing along twin rails over the next hill and down and up over the next onward to those milk and honey environs where motion pictures happen for real and history is made and large dashing lives you won t lead or even witness are lived.Imagine page after page of table dressing like this and you have my problem with The Maid s Version, which is a marvel of writing and a failure of story Woodrell jumps from one genealogy to another, one anecdote to another, and while the book isn t long enough to become incoherent as it hops through family trees and timelines, it s all backstory in search of a story It never seems as if an adult Alek is sifting through the secrets of West Table and discovering them for some greater purpose, but that Woodrell is simply dumping information, polishing it to substitute for a compelling narrative I d absolutely readof his work if it was better organized than this

  7. says:

    What an extraordinary novella this is It s the story of an old woman telling her grandson about what she knows of a horrific event that happened decades ago It s also the story a small town in Missouri and how it deals with a tragedy It also has a love story.That Woodrell has accomplished all of that in 164 pages is impressive And with such beautiful prose This is my first Woodrell book, but it won t be my last.The story opens with Alma DeGeer Dunahew sharing what she knows about a 1929 exp What an extraordinary novella this is It s the story of an old woman telling her grandson about what she knows of a horrific event that happened decades ago It s also the story a small town in Missouri and how it deals with a tragedy It also has a love story.That Woodrell has accomplished all of that in 164 pages is impressive And with such beautiful prose This is my first Woodrell book, but it won t be my last.The story opens with Alma DeGeer Dunahew sharing what she knows about a 1929 explosion at a dance hall that killed dozens in the town, including Alma s sister, Ruby Alma is spending time with her grandson, who begins the book with this description of her She frightened me at every dawn the summer I stayed with her She d sit on the edge of her bed, long hair down, down to the floor and shaking as she brushed and brushed, shadows ebbing from the room and early light flowing in through both windows Her hair was as long as her story and she couldn t walk when her hair was not woven into dense braids and pinned around and atop her head Otherwise her hair dragged the floor like the train of a medieval gown and she had to gather it into a sheaf and coil it about her forearm several times to walk the floor without stepping on herself She d been born a farm girl, then served as a maid for half a century, so she couldn t sleep past dawn to win a bet, and all the mornings I knew with her she d sit in the first light and brush that witchy long hair, brush it in sections, over and over, stroking hair that had scarcely been touched by scissors for decades, hair she would not part with despite the extravagance of time it required at each dawn The hair was mostly white smeared by gray, the hues of a newspaper that lay in the rain until headlines blended across the page It was years before I learned to love her I italicized the line about being born a farm girl because I liked it so much Anyway, Alma was a longtime maid of Arthur Glencross, who was an important banker in town We soon learn that Arthur had been having an affair with Ruby, and Alma wasn t happy about it When Ruby broke up with Arthur, it caused a rift The night of the explosion, several townsfolk saw Arthur acting suspiciously, running through streets and speeding away in his car But wait Before you jump to conclusions about who or what caused the explosion at the dance hall, you need to meet the rest of the town Each chapter brings us different voices, different narrators, and the pieces of the puzzle start to come together We meet Alma s husband and children, Ruby s lovers, and many of the people who were at the dance hall that night An especially moving chapter was the description of the memorial service for the victims The town was represented from high to low, the disaster spared no class or faith, cut into every neighborhood and congregation, spread sadness with an indifferent aim The well dressed and stunned, the sincere in bibs and broken shoes, sat side by side and sang the hymns they had in common I like writers who can masterfully share multiple perspectives of a story and create a narrative that flows between the past and the present The structure of the book reminded me of a few others I had liked So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell and The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks The prose truly is lovely I paused numerous times to reread a pretty sentence.If you prefer a linear story with only one narrator, you might not enjoy this book But if you like beautiful prose, a rich cast of characters and stories with a bit of mystery, you might love this

  8. says:

    This fulfills my growing fandom over Woodrell s writing With two favorable reads to lead me on Winter s Bone and Woe to Live On , I welcome again his crisp prose, ear for regional dialog, and affinity for a plot that puts questing personalities into challenges of morality and courage As with the earlier two, I appreciate the rural places of the Missouri Ozarks region he portrays so vividly based on having grown up nearby in the rural Oklahoma Ozark fringes I can t yet speak to Woodrell s This fulfills my growing fandom over Woodrell s writing With two favorable reads to lead me on Winter s Bone and Woe to Live On , I welcome again his crisp prose, ear for regional dialog, and affinity for a plot that puts questing personalities into challenges of morality and courage As with the earlier two, I appreciate the rural places of the Missouri Ozarks region he portrays so vividly based on having grown up nearby in the rural Oklahoma Ozark fringes I can t yet speak to Woodrell s earlier, reportedly noirish, detective fiction, but he appears to be applying this craft to the characters in this tale, a boy and his great aunt obsessed with resolving the mystery of a community tragedy from decades before in 1929 The family and community impacts of a tragic explosion at a town dance is powerfully woven into the story 12 year old Alek draws out of his great aunt Alma, whose sister Ruby was killed along with 41 others He is placed with her for a summer in the 60s and becomes captivated with Alma s reconstruction of the disaster and then the events leading toward and emerging from it She can t help weighing of all the potential perpetrators of the unsolved crime that continues to haunt and weigh upon the community Alma then worked as a maid for a prominent household and had taken her sister in to save her from their brutal father with her family She is stuck in a hardscrabble life of raising two sons with an absentee alcoholic husband and can t help being vicariously lifting up with the love of life shown by her teenaged sister, Ruby But Ruby s particular love of men and her propensity to change models when it suited her worried Alma at the time and continues to prey in her imagination as tied up with the event somehow Like the town itself, she needs a personal face for the evil behind the blasted life she has been living, not the ominous shadow of some kind of cosmic or divine retribution And in Alma s courageous walk on the edge of madness for so long Alek finds something that helps him begin to grow up and surmount the impact of festering secrets held by his own father surrounding these events She lived scared and angry, a life full of permanent grievances, sharp animosities and cold memories for all who d ever crossed us, any of us, ever Alma DeGreer Dunahew, with her pinched, hostile nature, her dark obsessions and primal need for revenge, was the big red heart of our family, the true heart, the one we keep secret and that sustains us.It was years before I learned to love her.I soon grew to respect for Alma s resilience and empathize with her hunger for some resolution Trapdoors in Woodrell s narrative transport you like a time machine back to Alma and Ruby s struggle together in poverty while those withpower fiddled in conspicuous consumption on the brink of conflagration The kind of rocks Alma and Alek turn over in their slow review end up creating a profile of weaknesses in the heart of the whole community, including mad men seeking attention, religious leaders calling down vengeance for pervasive sinning, corrupt law enforcement in the pockets of the wealthy, criminal networks spilling out into rural areas from St Louis, and specific men driven by jealousy So many families were devastated by the losses, and Alma sustained other major subsequent losses in her life But Ruby s death put her way off course She represented something special to all those she touched with her life, felt even by Alma s young children and Alek s father for a time when he was in their household They loved to hug her and feel her arms around their shoulders in return, squeezing them near to smell her perfume, her lipstick, her smoky breath so exciting as it burst into their faces Ruby s style, her looks, her sass and vinegar gave them the urge to fight for ,of everything they could imagine, against anybody, whenever she was near This story captivated me with its focus on a tragic event and its ripples and resonance in the lives of a boy near the beginning of his life, an old woman near the end of hers, and a rural community at a particular point in history Although inspired from a similar historical incident in 1928, the Arbor Dance Hall explosion in West Plains, this gem of a story was spun largely out of Woodrell s fertile imagination

  9. says:

    It took some time for me to settle into the rhythm of this book When I began to read I found the structure to be awkward and unsettled This is one of those stories that requires concentration since the timeline of events jumps around rather than unfold in a linear structure so if you do not enjoy books that forgo the linear, then I can see a great struggle as you read this The Maid s Version is the story of a woman named Alma, who has lost her sister in a tragic accident when the town s dan It took some time for me to settle into the rhythm of this book When I began to read I found the structure to be awkward and unsettled This is one of those stories that requires concentration since the timeline of events jumps around rather than unfold in a linear structure so if you do not enjoy books that forgo the linear, then I can see a great struggle as you read this The Maid s Version is the story of a woman named Alma, who has lost her sister in a tragic accident when the town s dance hall explodes Alma knows behind the scenes details of what occurred before the tragedy struck, therefore she is aware of the responsible party for the loss of so many lives The town, however, decides to regard her as crazy since they do not wish to seek justice if the responsible party is a wealthy member of society Years later and still haunted by what she knows, she recounts the story to her grandson and advises him to tell it to us.Did I like this book I am not even sure I think I would have enjoyed itif the structure of the storytelling had beenlinear The underlying story of the dance hall fire and the people involved was less dynamic due to the way the story wandered between characters and time periods too much This might be a book for some people, but it was not for me

  10. says:

    Trains have haunted the nights in West Table since 1883 and disrupt sleep and taunt those awakened The trains beating past towards the fabled beyond, the sound of each wheel thump singing, You re going nowhere, you re going nowhere , and these wheels are, they are, they are going far from where you lie listening in your smallness and will still lie small at dawn after they are gone from hearing, rolling on singing along twin rails over the next hill and down and up over the next onward to thoTrains have haunted the nights in West Table since 1883 and disrupt sleep and taunt those awakened The trains beating past towards the fabled beyond, the sound of each wheel thump singing, You re going nowhere, you re going nowhere , and these wheels are, they are, they are going far from where you lie listening in your smallness and will still lie small at dawn after they are gone from hearing, rolling on singing along twin rails over the next hill and down and up over the next onward to those milk and honey environs where motion pictures happen for real and history is made and large dashing lives you won t lead or even witness are lived Daniel Woodrell revisits in his latest novel his favorite setting a ong the isolated, impoverished, backward Ozark communities The framework of the story is not so different from Winter s Bone a murder mystery that allows the author to explore in detail the lifestyle, the hardships, the personal tragedies, the apparent fragility of simple people that hide inside their closely guarded hearts tremendous reserves of determination and endurance.Tha maid from the title is the grandmother of the narrator her teenage nephew who over a summer visit listens to her recollections of the event that destroyed her lifeAlma DeGeer Dunahew, with her pinched, hostile nature, her dark obsessions and primal need for revenge, was the big red heart of our family, the true heart, the one we keep secret and that sustains us The people of the Ozarks have a saying for people like her Grief has chomped on her like wolves do a calf Alma knows about pain and loss in excruciating detail Her resentment about the people who abused her and the town who ignored or tried to deny the crime that took away her father, her sister, her child, is justified The novel proposes to redeem her life by presenting her personal account of said events The Arbor Dance Hall explosion of 1929, how forty two dancers from this small corner of the Missouri Ozarks had perished in an instant, waltzing couples murdered mid step, blown towards the clouds in a pink mist chased by towering flames The narration is non linear and multi generational, investigating not only the night of the explosion, but the histories of the people involved, the plight of the survivors, the failed official inquests, the rumours, the bitter recriminations and the slow acceptance and rebuilding of a shattered community.If the story can be said to have pivotal point, it is the doomed love story of Alma s sister Ruby with a banker from the city, pitting the girl s zest for life and passionate nature against the conventions of society and the selfishness of the powerful Alma and Ruby are as different as night and day, one dour, hardworking and resigned with her station in life as a servant, the other living for pleasure and laughter Yet they are clearly a family and support each other.Despite the slimness of the volume, the material offered is of such richness and diversity I felt as if I read a big historical epic, touching deftly on individual destinies over generations, class struggles, world wars and druglords vendettas, tragedy and redemption walking hand in hand Just oneexample of the economy of words Woodrell employs, that yet conveys loads of ideas and nuances, in the case of one fundamentalist preacher that used to rant against people dancing in the town, one of the suspects in the explosionPreacher Willard accepted the Ten Commandments as a halfhearted start but kept adding amendments until the number of sins he couldn t countenance was beyond memorization He appeared to be adding new ones shaped to your own reported shortcomings until you were tailored appropriately for a residence in hell, and nowhere else, but a complete and prostrate begging of God and an increased tithe might, just might, earn youchance at heaven, who knows, give it a try, it s only money My second novel by Daniel Woodrell was in conclusion the confirmation I needed he is not a one hit wonder, and I will add him to my growing list of authors to buy on publication As a closing remark I will return to the opening lines of the novel, a quote attributed to Rolf Jacobsen, that I feel is an apt resume of the vibe I got from the lectureThese are the things the starry sky is set above Loneliness of the dead, courage of youth,And timber that is slowly away on great rivers

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