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Country Dark: Book summary and reviews of Country Dark by Chris Offutt

Country Dark

by Chris Offutt

Country Dark by Chris Offutt X
Country Dark by Chris Offutt
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  • Published Apr 2018
    240 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Country Dark is a taut, compelling novel set in rural Kentucky from the Korean War to 1970.

Tucker, a young veteran, returns from war to work for a bootlegger. He falls in love and starts a family, and while the Tuckers don't have much, they have the love of their home and each other. But when his family is threatened, Tucker is pushed into violence, which changes everything.

The story of people living off the land and by their wits in a backwoods Kentucky world of shine-runners and laborers whose social codes are every bit as nuanced as the British aristocracy, Country Dark is a novel that blends the best of Larry Brown and James M. Cain, with a noose tightening evermore around a man who just wants to protect those he loves. It reintroduces the vital and absolutely distinct voice of Chris Offutt, a voice we've been missing for years.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A compelling and brooding read." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. In Offutt's first work of fiction since 1997's The Good Brother, the award-winning author delivers a rich, compelling story of hardscrabble Kentucky mountain life while showing deep empathy for his careworn characters." - Library Journal

"Tucker is a true existential hero, facing his circumscribed world directly and acting with unflinching determination. His story, like the work of Daniel Woodrell, is both heartrendingly painful and unsentimentally uplifting." - Booklist

"Offutt's prose cuts deep and sharp, but Tucker and Rhonda remain somewhat mechanical, despite the nuance of the language used to describe them. The novel, however, is an undeniable testament to the importance and clarity of Offutt's voice in contemporary American literature." - Publishers Weekly

"Chris Offutt has crafted a whole new kind of book - steeped in elements of noir and rich cinematic devices - brimming with characters that are simultaneously realistic while also mythical in the best, bigger-than-real-life kind of way. Country Dark is a perfect balance of wonderful language and pulsing action. I couldn't put it down." - Silas House, author of Eli the Good and Clay's Quilt

"Chris Offutt is back, writing with his gritty, poetic language about mid-century eastern Kentucky. Country Dark reveals the core of one man's humanity as he risks everything, including his life, to hold his family together. Offutt is a born storyteller." - Ron Rash, author of Above the Waterfall and Serena

"Chris Offutt's work about mountain life earns high praise from other writers, and Country Dark, his return to fiction, is entirely welcome and a pleasure all around...Offutt writes so well, with such deep knowledge of the language and people, that Country Dark is likely to be read straight through, no resting places." - Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone and The Maid's Version

"Like the late, great Larry Brown and the late, great William Gay, Chris Offutt delivers a hardscrabble, mythic South with a laconic voice that turns sly to describe the follies of Man…Country Dark is a smart, rich country noir." - Stewart O'Nan, author of City of Secrets

"A lean, mean meditation on family, boundaries, and what a good man will do to protect the ones he loves. In this blood-and whiskey-soaked landscape, I'm reminded of both Faulkner and Steve Earle. A morality tale where grit and heart hold equal weight." - Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Fallen and the forthcoming The Sinners

"I've waited nearly twenty years for another novel by Chris Offutt, and boy is Country Dark worth it! From its excellent title to its last page, this one will pull you in and immerse you in the lives of its myriad characters…Offutt is a terrific writer with impressive range." - Thomas Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

"Country Dark is grim and funny and touching. It's a crime story, a novel of backwoods manners, and a family saga. It's many things at once, all of them great. Masterful descriptions of the natural world bump up against scenes of shocking violence, and you're left in awe, wondering how the hell Chris Offutt managed to pull this book off." - Richard Lange, author of The Smack, Angel Baby, and Dead Boys

This information about Country Dark was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Bev C

Country Dark
"The novel is set in rural Kentucky from the Korean War to 1970." (summary)

Tucker is a young veteran returning to the Kentucky hills from the Korean war.
He marries, starts a family and works for a bootlegger.
There are touching, protective scenes as he cares for his disabled son, daughters and wife.
When his family is threatened, we see more than one situation where love and dignity become entangled with violence.

I was excited to do this book in audio and I must say that hearing the dialogue spoken by the characters added so much dimension to my experience of Tucker's story.

4.5 definitely recommended

Kitty

Flabbergasted At The Reviews
Another typical Kentucky Hillbilly book. Characters were not well drawn and showed no development. Thank God the State took the kids away since Jo was raising them with no help from her depressed mother. It gave her and Shiny a chance to get a good education which paid off for her. No empathy for the parents. Poor ending.

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Author Information

Chris Offutt Author Biography

Chris Offutt is the author of the novels Code of the Hills, Shifty's Boys, The Killing Hills, Country Dark, and The Good Brother; the short-story collections Kentucky Straight and Out of the Woods, and three memoirs: The Same River Twice, No Heroes, and My Father, the Pornographer. He has written screenplays for Weeds, True Blood, and Treme, and has received fellowships from the Lannan and Guggenheim foundations. He lives near Oxford, Mississippi.

Link to Chris Offutt's Website

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