Summary and book reviews of The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell

The Outlaw Album

Stories

By Daniel Woodrell

The Outlaw Album
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Oct 2011,
    176 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2012,
    192 pages.

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Book Summary

Daniel Woodrell is able to lend uncanny logic to harsh, even criminal behavior in this wrenching collection of stories. Desperation - both material and psychological - motivates his characters. A husband cruelly avenges the killing of his wife's pet; an injured rapist is cared for by a young girl, until she reaches her breaking point; a disturbed veteran of Iraq is murdered for his erratic behavior; an outsider's house is set on fire by an angry neighbor.

There is also the tenderness and loyalty of the vulnerable in these stories - between spouses, parents and children, siblings, and comrades in arms - which brings the troubled, sorely tested cast of characters to vivid, relatable life.

The Echo of
Neighborly Bones

Once Boshell finally killed his neighbor he couldn't seem to quit killing him. He killed him again whenever he felt unloved or blue or simply had empty hours facing him. The first time he killed the man, Jepperson, an opinionated foreigner from Minnesota, he kept to simple Ozark tradition and used a squirrel rifle, bullet to the heart, classic and effective, though there were spasms of the limbs and even a lunge of big old Jepperson's body that seemed like he was about to take a step, flee, but he died in stride and collapsed against a fence post. Boshell took the body to the woods on his deer scooter and piled heavy rocks on the man, trying to keep nature back from the flesh, the parts of nature that have teeth or beaks. For most of a week Boshell was content with killing his neighbor just once, then came a wet spattering Sunday, the dish went out and he couldn't see the ball game on TV, so he snuck away to the pile and cleared the rocks from the head ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Many of the stories in The Outlaw Album are concerned with justice. In "The Echo of Neighborly Bones," "Uncle," and "Returning the River," wronged characters carry out their own revenge. Do you think the punishments fit the crimes?


  2. Much of Woodrell's fiction is dependent on its rural setting - the isolation and rough terrain a crucible in which an insular community is forged. Do you find that the portrayal of rural America is accurate? Do you think that Woodrell's characters would translate to another setting?


  3. Young women play a number of roles in The Outlaw Album - in "Twin Forks," it is the memory of a young woman that brings Morrow back to the Ozarks; in "Uncle," a teenage girl exacts her revenge on her former tormentor; in "...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Granted, this is not recommended general reading. It's for the sort of person who craves the gothic, the real life horror of such writers as Stephen King, mated with William Faulkner's Snopes clan, tossed with a dash of the worst violence from the daily news. There's no uplift, no sun coming out tomorrow. This short volume is masterful dark writing at its best, set in a distinct, culturally isolated area, filled with characters no one in his right mind would ever want to know. This is the grotesque told with a sly wink.   (Reviewed by Lisa Guidarini).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Woodrell's spare, brutal prose, a kind of 'country noir,' captures the true essence of a rough little pocket of America's heartland that has yet to be - and may indeed never be - smoothed over.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Hard words and harsh trials from a writer who knows all too well the frozen ground he occupies.

Library Journal

Dark, tough, and chilling, this collection packs a wallop, leaving readers to draw solid comparisons to works by Ken Bruen and James Ellroy. Some of these 12 tales are tragic, and some are funny, but all are unforgettable.

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The Ozarks

The region known as "The Ozarks" sprawls across southern Missouri as well as parts of northwestern and north central Arkansas, spilling over into Oklahoma and a small corner of Kansas. In area it's about the size of the state of Tennessee, in topography it's similar to the Appalachian region with rolling hills, plateaus (e.g. the Springfield and Salem Plateau regions), and rougher, mountainous terrain in the Saint Francois and Boston Mountain ranges. Referred to as the "American Highlands," it features hundreds of caves, springs, and natural arches, some of which are protected as a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways National Park.

The Ozarks map


The origin of the word "Ozark" is uncertain, but one popular theory is it's a corruption ...

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