Top critical review
It made me think, but I found it hard and unsatisfying work, and I didn't enjoy it.
on 18 November 2017
The book is written in a midwestern USA patois, very short on punctuation, bereft of conventional grammar and spattered with slang. I think it was a brave attempt to convey a sense of place and time, and about brave much-battered people finding solace in stoicism. Presumably the author would have found it a complex challenge. A brave try: on his part for writing it, and mine: for reading it. Overall, I wish that neither of us had bothered.
Patois can be good! Mark Twain used it with constant flashes of brilliance. Also, a well-intentioned deception can convey a powerful social message, as in 'Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee'. Nevertheless, this book didn't work for me. Sometimes I was even a bit confused about which of the characters was actually talking. I found the violence and the scenes of crimes - almost always country roadsides or lonely motels - very repetitive. It was probably meant to be. If so, it worked.
While the 'Desiderata' message of 'listen to the dull and ignorant, they too have their story' seems perfectly acceptable, and the final chapters of philosophical musing had some insights, I found the book an uncomfortable journey to an uncomfortable destination. Stoicism is perhaps the only solution when there seems to be no other available, but on the whole, I prefer a more optimistic view of life. It made me think, but I found it hard and unsatisfying work, and I didn't enjoy it. It would have been nice if the Sheriff had been successful at something, instead of just standing over bullet-ridden bodies being thoughtful all the time. I felt like Garrison Keillor's Indians of Lake Wobegon who 'waited for a long time in the rain, but nobody came'.