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Hardcover Smonk or Widow Town Book

ISBN: 006084681X

ISBN13: 9780060846817

Smonk or Widow Town

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

It's 1911 and the townsfolk of Old Texas, Alabama, have had enough. Every Saturday night for a year, E. O. Smonk has been destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, cheating and beating... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

When depravity becomes a way of life.

When I first saw this book;I immediately thought it was a western.However,even with a cursory look ,it is evident that it is in no way an Old West Western.The illustration on the dust jacket ,would do honor as a scene from the Old West.Somehow we have been conditioned to think of the Old West when we see these hardscrabble ,dilapidated ,town storefronts and a sinister character holding a rifle in such a menancing manner.It is a great piece of artwork. But what we get here, is a deep south Gothic story that takes place at the same time as the stories and events of Tombstone,Dodge City or Deadwood. If you were a fan of that super series,"Deadwood",or that other series "Carnival";you are in for a surprise ,and that puts it mildly. David Milch,creator of "Deadwood" has written this for the back of the dust jacket; "Tom Franklin has created a character the likes of which the Old West has never seen. E.O.Smonk is a rougher,tougher, version of Jesse James.An edgy,quirky,bawdy,look at the days of cowboys and shootouts.Smonk is the read deal." The big difference is that this novel is set in the Deep South,in a small town of Old Texas,Alabama;but at the turn of the 20th Century. Franklin's novel is so earthy,hard,vicious,and unbelievable it even makes Milch's "Deadwood" look like peaceful and gentle by comparison. Sometimes the story gets a little difficult to comprehend ,much as we saw with "Carnival". This is not a problem because the actions and thought processes of many of the characters are also beyond comprehension. If you like a real brutal,savage,ruthless,sadistic,heartless,cold-blooded,remorseless,barbarous western,and I don't mean one of those riding the range and singing as the sunsets westerns,this is a novel you will love.If somehow Al Capone found himself in this town;or if Al Swearengen from "Deadwood" found himself there;they would have made fast tracks for the hills,and wouldn't bother looking back. A great read;and an author I'll be looking for more from. Hey,wouldn't this make a great Series!!!

Distinctive and Dark

I'd never come across Franklin before, but this Southern Gothic retelling of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is so distinctive that I'm curious to see what the rest of his writing is like. Although ostensibly set in 1911 somewhere in southern Alabama, it has a very hazy quality to it that suggests it could be anywhere in the deep south or southwest, any time between 1870-1900. The story proceeds along two tracks: one follows a terrifying man called Smonk, and the other follows a 15 year old prostitute named Evavangeline. We meet Smonk at a trial convened by the men of Old Texas, where he is accused of murder after his yearlong terrorizing of their town. Unfortunately for them, the dirty, limping, deformed, consumptive, syphilitic, hellraiser smells a setup, and the scene quite literally explodes in an orgy of bloodletting which manage to evoke both the brutality and realism of Peckinpah and the bizarre cartoonishness of Tarantino all at the same time. Smonk makes his escape and begins a long game of cat-and-mouse with the town's only two male survivors. Meanwhile, we meet Evavangeline as she flees in flagrante from a strange roving vigilante group who is chasing her for being a sodomite (her young form was apparently mistaken for that of a boy's). Her journey takes her through the drought-ridden Gulf Coast and toward Old Texas. Along the way, she proves just as deadly as Smonk, leaving a trail of gruesomely dispatched corpses behind her. As we learn about both characters' pasts, we also learn about their pursuers. William McKissick is Smonk's former partner, now turned semi-honest lawman. Under the belief Smonk killed his boy, McKissick conducts his hunt with blood oozing out of an untended belly wound and Smonk's glass eye between his cheek and gum. Evavangeline is chased by a posse of "Christian Deputies" led by a northern fop with no control whatsoever over his band of rascals. The action takes place across a surreal barren landscape of dead sugarcane and rabies-infected dogs and rats. Ultimately, everything leads back to Old Texas, a town which mysteriously has no children. As with many a horror movie, the town's long-held horrifying secret is finally revealed as the karmic justification for all the killings, eviscerations, rapes, and ultraviolence over the preceding pages. This is an impossible book to pigeonhole. Franklin's Old Testament update is incredibly dark, gruesome, and violent (a note of warning, incest crops up more than once). And at the same time, it's so over-the-top that it can be awfully funny at times. Franklin's crafted a richly distinctive dialect and cadence for his characters' dialogue that helps in creating a unique sense of place. The one downside is that it's not set off like normal dialogue, which can make it a little hard to follow at times. I've definitely not read another book like this all year, but one like this is probably all I can handle. Highly recommended, but only for those with strong stomachs.

Great book - awesome reading

I attended a reading given by Tom Franklin in Knoxville and he read the first chapter of Smonk. The reading was amazing - he had many of us laughing out loud. Smonk is such a bad guy that you either hate him or love him. I loved him and many of the other characters in this book. I couldn't put Smonk down; it is quite literally the only book I've managed to finish this entire year that I didn't have to read for my classes. Coming from someone who used to put away a book a week or more, it was a pleasure to just sink into a novel again. I ordered Tom's other novel, Hell at the Breech, as well as his collection of short stories, Poachers. I've begun Poachers and like it as well.

Guns a blazin/stobs a flailin

I will admit upfront that I am a big, big Tom Franklin fan. Hugh! And I would probably read (and enjoy) just about anything this guy would write right down to and including filler in men's magazines. Point is, I am not necessarily an unbiased reader/reviewer. So with the caveat, here goes. I really like "Smonk," although perhaps not quite as much as his first novel "Hell..." Mr. Franklin truly writes for those that tend more towards testosterone than progesterone. In any case, I am beginning to think that he is something of a cross between Stephen King and Zane Grey, except that the scenery is distinctly Southern. And fortunately for the rest of the world this cross-poilinization as it were seems to have an awful lot of hybrid vigor. The writing is impeccable and both the scenery and the cadences of the dialogue are distinctly Southern. This is truly Southern Fiction at its best from, moreover, one of the best and most promising practitioners of the craft in business today. It seems that Mr. Franklin has taken considerable heat for the level of violence etc. in this book. I believe this is in part unfair because as is often the case with these sorts of things the violence is intended more as a metaphor than anything else--unless, of course, you are really simple minded, and want to take everything literally, in which case you probably don't read books in the first place. Indeed, the whole story is really something of a dark tragicomedy. So don't bother with this book if you are an overly serious person. Upshot: if you're squeamish if you're a very serious person, look elsewhere. If not, I predict you will really, truly enjoy "Smonk."

Everything but UFOs...

This book is like an episode of Deadwood run through the Looney Tunes blender. It's a horror movie, a jailbreak, an addictive page-turning literary ambush--Southern/Western Gothic meets Grand Guignol. Great stuff.
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