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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  653 ratings  ·  99 reviews
It's 1911 and the townsfolk of Old Texas, Alabama, have had enough. Every Saturday night for a year, E. O. Smonk has been destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, cheating and beating men, all from behind the twin barrels of his Winchester 45-70 caliber over-and-under rifle. Syphilitic, consumptive, gouty, and goitered—an expert with explosives and knives—Sm ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2006)
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excuse me, smonk!!!

smonk smonk smonk smonk smonk

now isn't that fun to say??

one more time: smonk

i would rather just keep saying "smonk" than write this book report, even though i thoroughly enjoyed the book. it is just too tempting to smonk.

now i understand...

okay, but for serious, because goodreads is a place for the serious reviews of books, not just a place for made-up words that shout at you float after float after float.

this is my second tom franklin, and while i don't think it was a
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.9* of five

The Publisher Says: It's 1911 and the secluded southwestern Alabama town of Old Texas has been besieged by a scabrous and malevolent character called E. O. Smonk. Syphilitic, consumptive, gouty and goitered, Smonk is also an expert with explosives and knives. He abhors horses, goats and the Irish. Every Saturday night for a year he's been riding his mule into Old Texas, destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, cheating and beating men all from behind the twin b
This book was amazingly bloody and raw, like an open, untreated wound.

The characters, even the ones you absolutely hated, had such depth to them. Some find redemption, some get a well-deserved death, some of them just get the "ray bees," but all of them leave an impression.

To me, this book brought with it almost a feeling of anxiety. You know that hollow ache you get in your stomach when you've intentionally procrastinated doing something urgent and important? I had that feeling the entire time
Here we have a Tom Franklin novel masquerading as a Cormac McCarthy novel, quotation mark-less and spare. It features E.O. Smonk, a one-eyed, goitered, syphilitic, tuberculous killing machine. Also Evavangeline, a fifteen year old, fiery-locked whore prone to biting.

But what begins as a McCarthy rip-off grows into so much more, a completely unexpected genre mashup with a rich mythology and twists and turns to boot. I can't even describe what happens without giving it away, but if you read this b
It is a testament to pressing matters that I finished this two days ago and truly didn't find the space to put it to wraps. Smonk worried me. Several times I feared I would injure myself laughing. I was also worried that memebers of an unnamed disease cult would butcher me. Tom Franklin has a sense of pitch which astonishes me. No doubt his craven Christian is named Portis for obvious reasons. I liked that touch.

Enclosed in the back of the novel was a receipt. I treasure such discoveries. This
Franklin pulls out the stops for his second novel. This is an over the top comic nightmare combining Peckinpah and Leone movies (leaning more toward the comic absurdity of Leone with the brutality of bloody Sam intact), Old Testament (esp. Sodom & Gomorrah), David Lynch, horror movies, southern gothic, and Cormac McCarthy with the volume turned up to eleven. Witches, madmen, rabies, machine guns, relentless gore and violence, scatological references, zombies, insane religious cults, crazed a ...more
Barton Smock
Jul 14, 2012 Barton Smock rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barton by: Alex Hoshor
what begins as a mere belly-of-a-demon lark becomes a tale so gravid that by its end one might feel a twinge of disappointment that what seemed destined to pop from so full a middle instead is allowed to deflate at the mouth of too much exposition. granted, its ear never loses itself to a teacher's hand nor does its voice ever widow the narrator. but is at its best when mad and mispronounced, two things too much tamed by coherence in its final pages. that said, Smonk may get the title of the boo ...more
I honestly do not know what to say about this book. Except that it was so twisted. I don't even know how to rate it. Some parts were wonderfully written, and Tom Franklin sure knows how to write interesting characters. This is my second book by Tom Franklin, after Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. I was not expecting this.
It was gruesome, like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. Including the random fountains of blood and body parts flying everywhere.
And the things these people do with g
Alex Hoshor
probably the less i say, the better, what with adjectives being easy to sell yet hard to buy. so… here you’ll read some of the best lines you’ve ever read. you’ll laugh the most uncomfortable laughs ever (and a lot of comfortable ones, too). it does biblical better than god, violence better than sex and vice versa. it’s that good… mostly. the last fifth loses its edge though, actually starts approaching campy, but then just goes too fast to get anywhere but done. would have hit five stars otherw ...more
Jan Polep
Holy crap. This one should be kept away from anyone under the age of oh, say, 50. Dark, evil, raunchy, gory, obscene, and yet sometimes funny story set in 1911 in Alabama. Guy named Smonk is to go on trial in a very strange small town, which kicks off a killing, whoring, weirdly fast moving plot that makes the worst R rated movie or HBO series look like a child's story. Of course, I had to finish it to see if anyone lived. LOL
An interesting story with a lot of surprises, as well as characters that were, to say the least, unique, but man, just too, too, too graphic, gross, gory, you name it. Nauseating descriptions of rotting eye sockets and the like made this a difficult book for me to even get through. I am not sure I even liked it, but I admired the skill of it, so I split the difference and went three stars.
So revolting and violent that it's comical, good dialogue, the character Smonk is memorable. But, as with all of Franklin's books, the writing feels like it wants to be a movie script and there's an emptiness and pointlessness buried beneath the entertainment. Is it all an allegory? It isn't interesting enough to care one way or another.
A killer western filled to spilling with looney tunes violence and near parodic vulgarity that keeps shifting the templates of who you're supposed to be rooting for and why. Smonk himself is almost a satire of legend, a man who was born with rabies and teeth to bite with, who killed his mother violently directly out of the wound and never stops killing until the day he dies. He is a portrait of grotesquery, animal-like, all untamed id and in spite of the fact that he is a walking pietri dish of ...more
Laurel Turner
This book is hell on wheels. It's terrible and disgusting and amazing and beautifully written. I loved every minute of reading it and was exhausted when I was done.
Brandon James
So close to being 5 stars and so close to being the best book I've read in a while. Smonk is a roaring, deeply dark and comic "western" set in the town of Old Texas in 1911. At times I couldn't stop laughing from the writing, the language and the sheer absurdity of almost every situation and outcome page after page. At other times I felt like I might retch up my lunch or double over while holding my stomach from the brutality of what I had just envisioned. This is another book full of characters ...more
Dana Bledsoe
Most folks will find this book highly offensive. I like it.
David Nadolny
I can tell from reading this that the writer is good, but this particular book contains so many disgustingly described sexual exploits that it was just terrible to read. And I am the far from a prude! If a story calls for it, I don't care if something is described explicitly. However, this book hardly leaves a page in between some degenrate sexual description. Most penthouse forum letters are less graphic. And most it isn't needed for the author to further the story. It even lost the shock value ...more
Bill Krieger
If you're a guy, go get Smonk. Smonk is great guy fiction: shooting, stabbing, blowing up shit, drinking, whores, rabid possums, etc. It's the wild wild west done right: ultra-violent, irreverent, sex-filled, funny, smart and a lot of fun to read.

Smonk is a Clint Eastwood-ish character, pretty much. He's a mythically bad guy who likes blowing up towns and biting people to give them the "ray bees" and such. He's short and ugly as an orangutan, and the ladies can't resist him. Ha! The dialog is do
Unlike any other book I can think of, reading "Smonk" is a lot like climbing a mountain. In the beginning, I found it hard to get into (particularly since i found the lack of quotation marks unbelievably irritating) , but the momentum I gathered from the fact that it is a super quick read propelled me halfway through the book before I even had time to process my misgivings. And I am very glad for that because, much like its rabid characters, once the story gets its claws in you it won't let go. ...more
I learned of this book from author Alden Bell when reading an interview with him for my review of his book The Reapers are the Angels. He listed this as one of his favorite books, and I said at that time that after reading the synopsis for Smonk, I could see where he got his inspiration for his character Temple of The Reapers are the Angels.

This book is a rip-roaring ride! I had mentioned to my friends early on that this book was the most vile and obscene book I’d ever read, and yet the most ent
Kyler Campbell
"Insanity" is the only accurate way I've found the describe Smonk to anyone who may ask.

This book will pick you up by the shirt collar and drag you through it, all the way from Smonk's first appearance and subsequent assault of a small town, through the final act and all the craziness involved. Franklin delves into some of the most despicable and heartfelt characters that have ever been put on a page. The book never takes itself too seriously (as it shouldn't given the characters involved) but
A couple of prefaces:

1) 2 stars because Tom Franklin can write, obviously. Excellent descriptions.

2) I am not, by any stretch, squeamish or prudish.

Having said that, I don't really know how to review this book without comparing it to similar experiences I've had with film.
I see a trailer or read reviews of a movie ... I'm intrigued.
I watch it ... a few minutes in and I feel like I've been completely duped.
There is promise here. A story which could be told well.
But for some reason the writer and
Every other book that Tom Franklin has produced has enthralled me with his style and gift of storytelling. Perhaps it's just my dislike of feigned baudiness and gore, but I had to downgrade my first rating of Smonk because the more I read, the more I disliked it. I stopped at around page 200. How this book slipped past an editor is a mystery. Tom Franklin is a superb writer, and I respect him as a person and as a creative master of the written word; however, I cannot recommend this book unless y ...more
DeAnna Rigney
This is a tough book to describe, but it basically follows two stories, one being that of E.O. Smonk, an outrageous villain who has terrorized the town of Old Texas, Alabama for some time, and that of Evavangeline, a teenage prostitute making her way through the Gulf Coast area. It takes place in 1911, but it reads like a Western set anytime between 1870 and1900. It is dark and licentious, and not for those easily offended, or maybe I should say it’s only for those who are hard to offend. There ...more
Jessica Stewart
This book is absolutely bizarre. I don't really know how to rate it because I was both repulsed by it and couldn't put it down. If you are a Tom Franklin fan from Hell at the Breech and/or Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, do not expect the same here. It is a good story, but just plain odd!
Sheldon Moss
A "could have been" interesting fable that didn't work for me.

I really liked Tom Franklin's first novel, "Hell at the Breech." But I thought this little novel was just plain silly. I'm sure Franklin intended the orgy of blood, violence, perversion, sadism, etc. etc. to make a larger point, ... I just missed it.

To me, it was like a really bad B-movie, maybe like the "chain saw massacre" thing, just not as clean, wholesome, or compassionate.

According to the list of positive reviews listed inside t
Jack Sonni
Enjoy "Deadwood"? This one's for you! If Cormac McCarthy had a sense of humor, "Blood Meridian" would have turned out like this. Violent, profane with unforgettable characters - Franklin's writing is vivid, tight and makes for a fun, compelling read.
David James
Revolting, hysterical, revoltingly hysterical, and hysterically revolting.

Take equal parts of the morbidly violent white trash Southern Gothics of early Cormac McCarthy, and hallucinogenic gutter sex satirical perversity of William S. Burroughs, simmer for six weeks, skim off any remaining liquid, and you should be able to scrape this book out of the sludge at the bottom of the pot.

I couldn't decide whether this one deserved five stars or only one, so I compromised at three, then rounded it up a
Dave Biggus
A low-down raunchy "southern" (as opposed to a western) set in Old Texas, Arkansas. Smonk is a hypercephalic goitered tank of a bastard who could (and does) pop a man's head with one hand. With his sidekick Ike, they discover some nasty secrets around town. There is a parallel story, one of Evavangeline, who is on the lamb from a born-again Christian Deputy Walton, who stumbles Quixote-like into the fracas.

Tom Franklin has balls, for sure... Some parts are hilarious, some (most) are disgusting,
Graphic. Gory. Disgusting. Franklin definitely has a way of describing sickening scenes and Smonk is chock-full of them. Sometimes less is more, though, and the absurd level of vileness in this short novel left me rolling my eyes each time he would try to up the ante on gross. Where Cormac McCarthy can paint a grim period piece with a few choice nasty scenes (see Outer Dark) Smonk goes way overboard.

The story is good, however, and the characters are well-crafted. If you can get past all of the
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On the Southern L...: Smonk 5 24 Jul 31, 2012 06:02PM  
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Tom Franklin was born and raised in Dickinson, Alabama. He held various jobs as a struggling writer living in South Alabama, including working as a heavy-equipment operator in a grit factory, a construction inspector in a chemical plant and a clerk in a hospital morgue. In 1997 he received his MFA from the University of Arkansas. His first book, Poachers was named as a Best First Book of Fiction b ...more
More about Tom Franklin...
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter The Tilted World Hell at the Breech Poachers Grit Lit: A Rough South Reader

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