Books & Fiction

The Outlaw Album: Stories by Daniel Woodrell

Lee Polevoi

Filmgoers know of Daniel Woodrell from Winter’s Bone, his novel made into last year’s Academy Award-nominated film.  A few of us hardier souls know his work from long before, both the acclaimed  “country noir” novels set in and around the Ozarks and Woe to Live on, his splendid gothic Western published in 1987 (and filmed by director Ang Lee as Ride with the Devil).  Woodrell’s novel was one of several from the ‘70s and’80s, including Ron Hansen’s Desperadoes, and stories from Barry Hannah’s legendary Airships, that breathed new life into westerns and paved the way for modern-day works like Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Patrick DeWitt’s Booker Prize short-listed novel, The Sisters Brothers. In fact, a section from Woe to Live On is featured in this collection, under the same title, and it’s one of this short collection’s true stand-outs. 

 

Hadden Memoir Serves as Timely Reminder of Worlds South of the Border

Lee Polevoi

Yet another looming casualty of the Information Age is the iconic roving foreign correspondent.  These days, when any clown with a cell phone can capture footage of streets riots in Cairo and Tripoli,  the events themselves—often stripped of all context—become just the latest media blips in a never-ending parade of near-meaningless “news stories.”  In Never the Hope Itself: Love and Ghosts in Latin America and Haiti, ex-National Public Radio correspondent Gerry Hadden offers a welcome corrective to this trend, as well as a reminder that turbulence in these regions is nothing new. 

Jonathan Raban, American

Lee Polevoi

Throughout a long career of travel writing and literary journalism, the British writer Jonathan Raban has expertly blended the personal with the public in a tone that’s never vain or self-aggrandizing. From the relative exuberance of young adulthood in Coasting—about a solo sailboat trip around the coast of England—to the mature, battered-by-life expatriate in Passage to Juneau—another sea journey through the Inside Passage and up to Alaska—we gladly follow his spiritual journeys through whatever territory he chooses to take us. In Driving Home, a bountiful new collection of essays, Raban can also lay claim to being an astute observer of the American scene.

 

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