I'm in the middle of this at the moment. In interviews Tom Franklin comes across as the perfect Southern gentlemen. Except that our guy writes pitch perfect fiction that would make Sam Peckinpah squeamish.
Following a well noted collection of short stories (always trust the writers who can put a good short story volume out there early) Franklin's first novel Hell at the Breech was a big violent look at southern Alabama in the late 19th century, a story hinging on politically tinged murder that spawned a campaign of domestic terror among the poor cotton farmers of the county. Hell at the Breech is a novel taken from a bit of fact and though nothing approaches Cormac McCarthy for American greatness, Tom Franklin gets close. His prose is clean, unadorned and yet has a weight of expectation, it's own clockwork. It's beside the point that like most Southerners, he has a natural inclination to tell a story properly.
The new book Smonk is named after the books main character, E. O Smonk a criminal many times over who shares the stage with Evangeline, a smart and tough prostitute on the run from neighbouring Louisiana and the self appointed "Christian Deputies" a group of morally dubious lawmen.
I'm a sucker for the American South and Tom Franklin doesn't put a foot wrong.
Posted by Dave