Sent: Saturday, September 02, 2006 2:05 AM
To: Amos J Wright
Subject: Daily Dose: Smonk
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by Tom Franklin
Franklin's much-anticipated new novel doesn't disappoint. He writes
about what he knows best: the underside of the South. Relentlessly
dark yet simultaneously humorous, "Smonk" is a wild and brutal
ride through small towns in Alabama at the turn of the century.
Franklin writes well and has a keen eye for detail, ear for dialogue,
and imagination for recreating the past. An authentic, harrowing,
darkly comic tale.
An inventive tale, set in Alabama in the early 1900s, that combines
the gritty edge of Quentin Tarantino and the outrageous humor
of Christopher Moore.
It's 1911 and the secluded southwestern Alabama town of Old Texas
has been besieged by a scabrous and malevolent character called
E. O. Smonk. Syphilitic, consumptive, gouty and goitered, Smonk
is also an expert with explosives and knives. He abhors horses,
goats and the Irish. Every Saturday night for a year he's been
riding his mule into Old Texas, destroying property, killing livestock,
seducing women, cheating and beating men - all from behind the
twin barrels of his Winchester 45-70 caliber over and under rifle.
At last the desperate citizens of the town, themselves harboring
a terrible secret, put Smonk on trial, with disastrous and shocking
Thus begins the highly anticipated new novel from Tom Franklin,
acclaimed author of Hell at the Breech and Poachers. Smonk is
also the story of Evavangeline, a fifteen-year-old prostitute
quick to pull a trigger or cork. A case of mistaken identity plunges
her into the wild sugarcane country between the Alabama and Tombigbee
rivers, land suffering from the worst drought in a hundred years
and plagued by rabies. Pursued by a posse of unlikely vigilantes,
Evavangeline boats upriver and then wends through the dust and
ruined crops, forced along the way to confront her own clouded
past. She eventually stumbles upon Old Texas, where she is fated
to E. O. Smonk and the townspeople in a way she could never imagine.
In turns hilarious, violent, bawdy and terrifying, "Smonk" creates
its own category: It's a southern, not a western, peopled with
corrupt judges and assassins, a cuckolded blacksmith, Christian
deputies, widows, War veterans, whores, witches, madmen and zombies.
By the time the smoke has cleared, the mystery of Smonk will be
revealed, the survivors changed forever.
"Fast-paced and unrelentingly violent, Franklin's western isn't
for everyone, but readers looking for a strange and savage tale
can't go wrong."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Horror and history rendered with gusto and buckets of blood."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"Highly entertaining....Some sensitive readers may want to run
screaming from the house, but those with a strong stomach for
graphic death and sex will be smitten with Smonk."
-- USA Today
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Franklin is the author of "Poachers: Stories" and "Hell at
the Breech." Winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches
in the University of Mississippi's MFA program and lives in Oxford,
Mississippi, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their
children, Claire and Thomas.
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