Give Us A Kiss by Daniel Woodrell
Setting: Ozark Mountains, USA
Daniel Woodrell labels his books as country noir. His novels take place out in the backcountry, in the heart of the Ozark mountains that’s geographically located between Missouri and Arkansas and extends further out to southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. I’ve read that most of his stories tend to take place in the Missouri Ozarks. This one is set in the fictional town of West Table, Mo– twenty miles north of the Arkansas line, the “bulls-eye heart of the Ozarks.”
GIVE US A KISS introduces Doyle Redmond. He’s a ex-Marine and a published, unknown writer who comes from a family of outlaws. The story is told from his first person pov and is set somewhere around the 1980′s. Kansas lawmen with warrant in hand have been visiting the Redmonds daily, asking for the whereabouts of their son, Smoke. They’ve dispatched Doyle to go find him so he can cop a plea to stop the harassment.
Doyle steals his wife’s Volvo and heads out to the heart of the Ozarks where his big brother’s been hiding out with his girlfriend Big Annie and her daughter, Niagra (she’s named after a Marilyn Monroe flick) for two years. When he gets there, well, his purpose for coming gets tossed when Smoke offers him a chance to make some quick money. The story takes off from there.
This novel is short and a quick read. It was so compulsively readable that I read almost all in one sitting. This is a comical tale of sorts about the Redmond family and their heritage and their ties to the land. The town where the Redmonds grew up in have shops with a soda fountain where stores thrive without Wal-Mart. Everybody knows each other’s names. Being kin by blood is important especially when it comes to skirting the law. Like the Ozark mountains, the Redmonds tower instead of hunkering down. Continue reading