Hell at the Breech
In 1897, an aspiring politician is mysteriously murdered in the rural area of Alabama known as Mitcham Beat. His outraged friends -- mostly poor cotton farmers -- form a secret society, Hell-at-the-Breech, to punish the townspeople they believe responsible. The hooded members wage a bloody year-long campaign of terror that culminates in a massacre where the innocent suffe...more
That’s the best way I can think of to describe Tom Franklin’s impressive first novel. A surprisingly strong, surprisingly powerful maiden effort that clearly heralds the blooming genius of the talent that would go on to pen Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, one of my favorite novels of 2011. The man can seriously tell stories.
But damn if th ...more
My first son was born in the era when father’s sat in the waiting room. By the ...more
"Yes, sir," he said.
"Are you willing to kill, if given the order?"
"Willing to die, if it comes to that?"
"In return, you'll get the protection of this inner circle, and of the larger circle without. Since Arch was murdered, we've ...more
Gangbangers of the late 1890's in poor scrapple cotton farming South, seemingl ...more
A couple of months ago, I was browsing through an independent bookstore in Mendocino, California and happened upon HELL AT THE BREECH by Tom Franklin, which was published in 2003 and yet was still stocked on the shelves as a new title. Imagine a chain bookstore holding on to a title that long. I doubt I ever would have discovered the book otherwise ...more
Vigilante “Justice” in the post-Civil War South
Hell at the Breech
By Tom Franklin
HarperCollins, 320 pages, $23.95
It’s a cliché of contemporary fiction: literary novels are character-driven; commercial novels are plot-driven. But surely the best, and most lasting, novels integrate both elements. Hell at the Breech, a remarkable first novel by Tom Franklin, represents a nearly perfect sy ...more
His account of the very-real Mitcham Beat "war" (hardly a war, more like an extreme case of territorial pissing, in light of the war-to-end-all-wars twenty years or so preceding it) in antebellum southern Alabama is h ...more
Mitcham Beat, comprising mostly of poor cotton farmers, is arguably one of the roughest rural hamlets in Alabama even by 1898 standards. A secret group of Whitecaps named “Hell at the Breech” keep their own version of law and justice by burning houses, threatening people, poisoning wells, destroying fences, and lynching.
Inspired by true events, I often wondered what rea ...more
Franklin doesn't shrink from presenting the dire living conditions and tenuous lifestyles of those that live on the fringes of society and he takes his time (almost the fir ...more
Reading along and I thought "This book is going nowhere" and I was contempla ...more
**if one qualm must be had about it, which one doesn’t, but… i would only say that at times i wondered if character behaviors were being fudged to draw hero/villain distinctions for the sake of broader audience appeal, or ...more
Wonderful novel set in actual events in south Alabama during the 1890's, fictional account of the Mitcham Beat War. I grew up in that area, and find the book fascinating, and the language lush and lyrical: "cotton as white as a senator's eyebrow." Other images are as stark as Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, and evoke similar feelings.
I grew up in Clarke County, and the stories about the Mitcham Beat War are ...more
Beautifully written, complex characters.
You won't finish this book with an romantic notions about the "good ol' days" intact. Hell at the Breech does what well-written historical fiction does best -- makes the facts, figures and statistics come to life (and death). You will understand the crop-lien/sharecropping sys ...more
This is not for the faint at heart. But if you want a real hard steady glimpse into the hearts of the good and the bad and the in-between then walk here with the widow and her children and Sheriff Billy Waite among the scrappy worm-ridden cotton fields of West Alabama with only the burn of stolen corn likker sloshing in your stomach tricking your hunger. Sue Alma might be waiting with coffee when you get through. And again, she might not be.
That's the kind of stuff that rest ...more
|On the Southern L...: Final Impressions, Hell at the Breech, March, 2014||56||39||Apr 11, 2014 07:57AM|
|On the Southern L...: Initial Impressions, Hell at the Breech, March. 2014||32||42||Mar 10, 2014 07:03PM|