Posts Tagged ‘The Maid’s Version’

My first review of 2014 is for “Beyond the Bestsellers,” a quarterly review sheet Concord Public Library staff produces. I’ve pasted it below. I put BtheB together now, and it’s fun to see what my fellow librarians are reading.

The Maid’s Version
Woodrell, Daniel – 2013 – 164 p. Setting: 1920’s & beyond in West Table, Missouri     FIC WOODRELL

Self-described “country noir” novelist Daniel Woodrell (The Outlaw Album,Winter’s Bone, etc.) latest is culled from actual historical events. Twelve year old Alek Dunahew spends the summer with his grandmother Alma. One night during a storm she shares a long-kept story with him: “. . . she cunningly chose that raging moment to begin telling me her personal account of the Arbor Dance Hall Explosion of 1929, how forty-two dancers from this small corner of the Missouri Ozarks had perished in an instant. . . and why it happened . . . . a great crime or colossal accident, an ongoing mystery she thought she’d solved. I knew this was a story my dad did not want me to hear from her lips, as it was the main source of their feud, so I was tickled and keen to hear more . . . .” In 1989, the angel marking the fire victims’ grave appears to dance, igniting new interest in the story, and Alek’s father says, “Tell it. Go on and tell it.” Woodrell unspools the heartbreaking tale bit by bit, introducing suspects, dance hall-goers, and Alma’s family. It’s beautifully told, historically interesting, and perfectly crafted.

I’ve also been working feverishly to get my column done for tomorrow’s deadline ahead of Downton Abbey — and I just turned it in. Before I go make popcorn, I’ll note that The Mindful Reader will run in the Concord Monitor next Sunday, January 12, and I’m reviewing Elisabeth Elo’s debut thriller, North of Boston and one of the best science books I’ve ever read, Amanda Gefter’s Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. Stay tuned!

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