Top positive review
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Flawless contemporary American literature
on 20 September 2011
Nightwoods is the 1950's tale of Luce, a young woman who has shunned society and chooses to live as a caretaker in a remote cabin in North Carolina. Content to be surrounded by nature, the lake and the mountains, she revels in her solitude until a man from the state department shows up. He has her murdered sister Lily's children in the car and says that as the next of kin, she can either take them in or they go into state-care.
Naturally she chooses to foster them, but they come with more baggage than you could imagine when her sister's ex-husband - Bud - recently & dubiously cleared of a murder-charge shows up looking for the children. Just what does he want?
Nightwoods is fantastically written; the vivid descriptions of the idyllic alpine-setting really allow you to picture the rural homestead. Frazier's descriptions of 1950's North Carolina read like some of the truly great American-authors; all "dipped in cornmeal and fried in lard" like Steinbeck or Salinger, there is even some influence from the beatnik literature scene, reminiscent of Kerouac as the local policeman has a taste for Benzedrine and the locals are fixated with moonshine.
Characters pasts and interactions are brilliantly depicted and this really builds up a great deal of character progression as we see Luce, seemingly frozen solid by her experiences in society, begin to thaw a little. Frazier manages to paint Bud as a formidably evil character without ever straying into exaggeration and as a result, his characters are plausible and truly interesting.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, my only complaint is that it was just the 248 small-print pages long!