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The Death of Sweet Mister

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,442 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Daniel Woodrell delivers his most powerful work to date in The Death of Sweet Mister.An overweight, lonely thirteen-year-old, Shuggie Akins is shrewdly observant. But not even he can fully comprehend the nature of the forces working against him. His distracted, frequently tipsy mother, Glenda, turns a blind eye to the effect her sexually provocative teasing has on him. His ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 30th 2002 by Plume (first published January 1st 2001)
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The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray PollockWinter's Bone by Daniel WoodrellDry Bones in the Valley by Tom BoumanKnockemstiff by Donald Ray PollockCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Country Noir
10th out of 128 books — 117 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteThe Sound and the Fury by William FaulknerAs I Lay Dying by William FaulknerWise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
Best Southern Gothic Literature
71st out of 94 books — 190 voters


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Community Reviews

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Mike
There's no need stretching this out. Daniel Woodrell is a Hellaciously good writer. The Death of Sweet Mister is a fine dark read told through the eyes of a thirteen year old, Morris Atkins, better known as Shug, and, you guessed it, Sweet Mister.

Once again, Woodrell sets his story in the Missouri Ozarks, often called "Little Dixie." Woodrell paints his setting with the strokes of a master. His characters come alive through dialog that cuts sharp and true.

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I'm going up the country where the wate
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Algernon

"You wake up in this here world, my sweet li'l mister, you got to wake up tough. You go out that front door tough of a mornin' and you stay tough 'til lights out - have you learned that?"

'Shug' Akins learns the hard way, between the beatings delivered by his father Red and the pampering of his mother Glenda. To the first, he is just a lazy, fat, soft teenager that needs to have some sense punched into him. Red goes to regular school, but we learn almost nothing about that side of his life. His
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Melki
Holy crap!


I may need to read some Cormac McCarthy to cheer up after this one.
tee
All my favourite writers are favourites for different reasons. Tartt for her ability to weave a story sometimes about nothing, Winterson for her heady prose and now Woodrell (along with Donald Ray Pollock) for his ability to punch you in the stomach, only to walk away and leave you wanting more. Give me grit, give me all of the gnarly, mucky gritty shit.

As much as I get a kick out of listening to say, Stephen Fry speak; his clever vocabulary, the pompous roll of his words - I have started apprec
...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: This may sound weird but, I enjoy reading well-written depressing books.

I have never read this author before nor actually even heard of him, but he caught my eye when I saw that the publisher had reprinted all his works in a new line of trade paperbacks. I had a hard time deciding which book to try first but this one seemed to fit my interests well and it was short so a good one to try a new author. It is really hard to use words such as "I liked" or "I enjoyed" with such a
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Adam
An Ozarkian Greek tragedy so mythic it could be carved in stone, but presented in such disarming voice it becomes an earthy delight filled with humor, sadness, and innocence lost presented in language of exquisite cadence and rhythm. That voice is Shug’s, a overweight 13 year old who’s relation with his childlike mother Glenda and the oppressive “father” figure “Red” is the center of the story. His daily life consists of food, raiding drugs from sick people for “Red”, caretaking a graveyard (whe ...more
Lou
This is a boys account,from a modern day underbelly family, he's a overweight teen living with a stepfather who dishes out violence drugs and alcohol. He watches his mother, who he admires and cares for, get beaten up by his stepfather and used by men for sexual purposes, eventually he feels if everyone has a slice of mom why can't I. His affection and attraction goes beyond being her son and eventually his mother gives in to his love which is quite shocking.
http://more2read.com/?review=the-deat
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Ben Loory
"Our house looked as if it had been painted with jumbo crayons by a kid with wild hands who enjoyed bright colors but lost interest fast. That kid was me, in general, and I did try any paint we had in the shed."

good book, great writing. sort of flannery o'connor meets james m. cain, with jim thompson running around planting dynamite here and there.

i have a feeling that in a couple weeks that 4 star rating is either going to go up to 5 or down to 3. depends on how it all settles. helluva story, t
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Kwoomac
At first, I will admit, I was somewhat relieved to learn that Sweet Mister was a 13-year-old boy, and not a beloved pet,who was going to die. And poor Sweet Mister does die, but only figuratively.The reader watches as Sweet Mister moves from the (relative) innocence of his youth to his emergence as a bit of a monster, a carbon copy of the man who raised him.

Reading Daniel Woodrell is always a visit to a desolate, desperate world full of characters you hope aren't real, but deep down you know the
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Ed
I liked it. This short, fast-paced noir is narrated by a thirteen-year-old boy named Shug who lives with his dysfunctional (dad is a drug dealer and mom is, well, let's just say overbearing) parents in the Ozarks. The regional prose style won't appeal to all. For me, it's offbeat but still accessible and refreshing. In other words, I knew what was going on most of the time. I've read several other Woodrell books before I started tracking my reads, and this is the best of the bunch.
Steve
My "Pif" review from a while back (contains spoilers):

http://www.pifmagazine.com/2001/08/th...
MSJ (Sarah)
What struck me most while reading this book was my great sense of sadness for Shug and his lack of positive parental role models. This was a very personal reaction that touched on my own childhood. It is heartbreaking for me when parents expose their children to adult situations. In this instance Red, his father, constantly calls him fat and coerces him to steal prescription drugs from the terminally ill and his mother Glenda is a tad too open about her sexuality. Sorry Shug, some parents just p ...more
Tim
Woodrell's vivid prose carries the day in a short, sharp novel that's another of his so-called country noirs. The downtrodden and criminal-minded in Ozark territory are the usual suspects with Woodrell; here a young, overweight narrator is caught in the orbit of small-time baddies as his mother struggles with her relationship with one of them (chicks do dig danger). It's hard not to feel for the boy narrator, but he's no lamb.

Most of the drama takes place off stage; it's insinuated rather than s
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Tama Wise
There's something very cool about Daniel Woodrell. He just has a pitch perfect depiction of the Ozarks, the most rural of rurals, the sorta place where nasty stuff happens and there's no one around to see it. Even if they do, chances are they won't talk. Or if they do, you can be sure there will be just as horrible consequences.

The last book I read of Woodrell's was Muscle For the Wing. His stuff is generally called 'country noir' and that summed up that beautiful piece of grotty crime perfectl
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Josh
In the community where I grew up there happened to be a part of the county called "the bloody 8th". The "8th" was a reference to the old voting district and the "bloody" was a mostly exaggerated (but not entirely) reference to the carnal bad stuff that went down there. Us city kids weren't welcome, and generally made it a point to avoid it at all times. Well the worst of the populous within my boyhood "Bloody 8th" would be upstanding citizens compared to the cast in this little jaunt through the ...more
Johnny
More of a novella, this simple tragedy paints a grim picture of one family in the Ozarks. Beautifully written with insight and compassion, the story has a way of bringing darkness to light.

Woodrell's work always reminds me of Erskine Caldwell, whether it's the setting or just that so few writers can characterize rural communities without slumming.

Quick and effective, I look forward to reading all of Woodrell's work.
Jake
Well. THAT was depressing.
Linda Lipko
My first book of 2010 has left me stunned as a deer in headlights while watching an approaching car speed around a corner with little time or space to spare.

This dark, disturbing tale of abuse, incest, Ozark mountain poverty, dysfunction, alcoholism and drug addiction packs a wallop that takes the breath away!

Told from the voice of overweight, mamma's boy 13-year-old Shugg, the writing is terse, tense and powerful. Little Sweet Mister, so called by Glenda his sultry, seductive mommie, never stan
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Gina
"The Death of Sweet Mister" chronicles the summer 13-year old "Shug" Akins takes an irredeemable turn away from childhood. Unfortunate Shug doesn't even start the tale in a state of innocence. He is called Sweet Mister by his doting mother, a beautiful but compromised alcoholic, Glenda. His father, Red, is almost certainly not his father, which everyone seems to know, including Shug himself. The father he is stuck with, or Glenda's husband anyway, is an abusive monster who spends most of his tim ...more
Rick
Daniel Woodrell's novel about a band of Southern grotesques nestled in the Ozarks was very enjoyable. This is expecially true when I compare it to Scott Lassser's ineffectual Say Nice Things about Detroit. If the Ozarks that Woodrell describes are even half as nasty as the people and places he depicts then I will take Hell Night in Detroit anytime.

Woodrell's novel about a fat teenage boy living in a cemetery with his drunken sluttish mother and his pill popping thieving and murderous father cou
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Laura
Just finished last night, so my feelings might evolve, but right now I give it 3/5 stars for being well written and hard to put down (especially because it's so brief). A lot of the fewer-star reviews for this book seem to be motivated by how depressing the book is, but that element didn't really bother me, and I guess I never was struck by the sadness while reading.

Woodrell is clearly a skilled writer, but the story just didn't do it for me, and the writing didn't capture me enough to make up
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Quiltgranny
This is the last of a trilogy by Woodrell. I just didn't like this book at all. Many reviewers found it to be a quick, fast paced read. I did not. Woodrell's view of life in the Ozark hills is that it is already written: how the world sees you is how you come to see yourself. Failure is built in, and violence, petty crime, and jailtime are just expected part of life. Too depressing, and nothing of value for me here.

"Shuggie Atkins is a lonely fat boy of thirteen. His mother, Glenda, teases him w
...more
Joan Colby
Country noir perfectly describes the work of Daniel Woodrell. This is the second book I’ve read of his and I liked it a lot less than “Give us A Kiss” . Woodrell has been compared to Southern gothics like O’Connor and Faulkner, but here’s the difference. There’s a mythic component to both of the latter, a subtext that engages more than the surface story. Woodrell is all surface. He has the lingo, the down and dirty, but he lacks O’Connor’s or Faulkner’s black humor or sense of tragedy. There’s n ...more
Roberto
Beautiful sentences, a child's southern drawl so poetic that it maybe doesn't always ring true but fluff it, it's good to read, it's beautiful. A powerful, heartbreaking story - at times you feel that chewing in your belly, and that ending, sheesh...brilliant and awful.
Candee
This story is one I will never forget and I will definitely be keeping this book to read again down the road. The author is what made the story truly special due to the fact that his writing is some of the best if not the best Ive ever read. He puts words together that give life to everyday things like the water, the sky, the heat, the air - making those things living beings with thoughts and actions. He creates a tangible vivid setting with few words and leaves you breathless with just one sent ...more
Ty Wilson
The Death of Sweet Mister is a tale set in the Ozarks, and follows the life and criminal misdeeds of Morris Atkins, better known as Shug. Shug is 13 years old and lives with his mother, Glenda, and a stepfather named Red in a caretakers house at the local graveyard. Red is an abusive father figure for Shug, when he decides to be around, and coerces Shug into breaking into homes and stealing the prescription drugs he finds inside. Glenda spends most of her time with Shug, when she's not being use ...more
Sean Owen
Daniel Woodrell is one of those writers who returns again and again to a specific place. Woodrell's Ozark's are as much a part of his books as one of the characters. In his fiction he has truly claimed this place as his own.

"The Death of Sweet Mister" concerns an overweight teenage boy Shugg, his mother Glenda and her on and off male interest Red. All parties hold to the fiction that Red is Shuggs father, but all know that this isn't actually the case. Red is low life criminal who beats Glenda a
...more
John Seyfarth
I first learned about Daniel Woodrell from the movie Winter's Bone. He is a fine artist who writes about distasteful material in a gripping way. All of his books, at least the ones I am familiar with, are set in the Ozarks, near where I grew up. Perhaps because of my background, I readily recognize his characters. The events he describes are shocking but realistic. For the most part, these people have no hope and survive by petty crime and brutal actions.
Jay
Aug 08, 2014 Jay rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
This book is brutal and dark. Dark like the cadaver of a raccoon bleeding in the dirt of a dusk-torn highway. Dark like the black scab over a swelling flesh-eating bacterial lump. Dark like a pair of black patent leather buckle shoes half-buried in the muck of fish waste. Only there are shapes that stir in the dark. That raccoon is still twitching and shivering. That scab oozes a thick dark pus. And those shoes, why those shoes still have feet in them down down down here where the moon's light j ...more
Michael Lieberman
Bottom Line: a good read for those who like books, which explore the dark side of human nature.

Daniel Woodrell — best know for WINTER'S BONE, which became an award-winning film feature film — is at his best exploring rural dysfunctional families. Enter Shug, the thirteen year old narrator, his mother Glenda, and Red, who may or may not be Shug's biological father. Red, an excon, belittles the boy, slaps him around, beats his mother, and brings him into the family business, burglary. Glenda spend
...more
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test 2 20 Apr 28, 2013 12:48PM  
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