I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run
The wonderful thing about social media and in particular book discussion forums such as goodreads is the opportunity it offers to the avid reader to discuss and in particular to discover new books, and new authors. Michael Farris Smith was a name that was completely alien to me until a throw away mention made me inquisitive as to the content of his books and the literate style of his prose. By pure chance his novel Desperation Road had been heavily discounted (for a very limited period) on kindle and so with a brave heart and a restless reading soul I reached inside the mind of what I hoped would be a great new discovery and reading experience.
Desperation Road is set in southern USA in the state of Mississippi and as the title would tend to suggest this journey is going to be a long and difficult ride. I had previously read and enjoyed the works of Michael McDowell (southern gothic and a good example the classic Cold Moon over Babylon) and the much revered Cormac McCarthy with his deeply dark and troubling stories of Southern Outcasts (Child of God) In fact there is one similarity between Child of God and Desperation Road; the central character in both books has just been released from prison. Russell Gaines, after 12 year sentence is returning home to the small town of McComb in the Mississippi Delta. His crime was one of manslaughter and now, having served his time, is hoping that he can be accepted back into the community. There to greet him on his arrival are Walt and Larry who are not best pleased to see the return of the man who killed their brother Jason. At the same time a homeless drug addict, and part time prostitute, Maben is making her way on foot to McComb accompanied by her daughter Annalee. But old habits die hard and Maben is forced to "turn a few tricks" whilst leaving her daughter asleep in a cheap motel. When a local deputy intercepts her, and demands payment in kind, in a fit of rage and anger she shoots him dead. What happens when the world of Russell and Maben collide in a small Southern Town where violence and the threat of death is an everyday occurrence.
This was a tremendous and exciting read and I could really feel the tension and hate that was destined to explode at anytime and usually did. The claustrophobic setting and some great prose made this a novel to be appreciated and devoured in ultra quick time...."Reptiles slither and blackbirds cry as the early light slashes and relieves the quiet night."........"Ripped wide open but alive. Ripped wide open but recovered. Ripped wide open but not wide enough. Lucky, they'd said. A miracle they'd said. Bullshit, he'd said"....."There had been years and years of this. Years of not knowing where she was going or what she was doing or the names of the people she was doing it with."....
Wonderful atmospheric edgy writing not knowing where the violence was going to strike but knowing that it would happen soon. Michael Farris Smith is an author that I shall be reading more off..very soon...Highly highly recommended