Brenda Cooper

Reading Recommendation: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

This is a rare case of “Saw the movie, bought the book,” and even rarer case of “both worked.”  For my usual readers, It’s NOT genre fiction, except to the extent the life of people in Ozark Mountains feels a planet away from Seattle.  I’m currently working on a strong female character in my novel project, and Woodrell’s Ree Dolly is one of the strongest I’ve come across where her strength feels intrinsic and both possible and plausible, yet it’s enough to blow you away.  Ree is real.

I also noticed that even though the world in the book is unfamiliar to many readers (including me, although I did live in rural Washington for a while and read echoes), the book was so unrelentingly immediate that it made me itch to go back into the manuscript I’m working on and rip out every single expository lump of description about what happened in the moments off-scene.

I wanted to read the book becasue the dialogue in the movie felt incredibly real.  As it worked out, the dialogue is almost completely pulled from the book.  In fact, the movie was peeled out of the book with more honor than I’ve ever seen.  There are a few things that got left behind in the book when the movie came out of it, but for me they were treats, or a bit like the difference between the final cut and the director’s cut in those cases when both are excellent.  So reading the book also gave me some appreciation for the crew that made the movie.

Anyway, Winter’s Bone is a great book for readers, and I recommend it even more highly for writers who are working on character or place.  Which should be pretty much all of us.