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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  823 ratings  ·  85 reviews
In ten stunning and bleak tales set in the woodlands, swamps, and chemical plants along the Alabama River, Tom Franklin stakes his claim as a fresh, original Southern voice. His lyric, deceptively simple prose conjures a world where the default setting is violence, a world of hunting and fishing, gambling and losing, drinking and poaching—a world most of us have never seen...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 30th 2000 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1999)
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Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom BoumanThe Devil All the Time by Donald Ray PollockWinter's Bone by Daniel WoodrellKnockemstiff by Donald Ray PollockCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Country Noir
18th out of 89 books — 93 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggNew Yesterdays by Jim L. WrightForrest Gump by Winston GroomLooking for Alaska by John Green
Alabama Books
20th out of 142 books — 80 voters

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Community Reviews

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I've read so many short story collections this year about men behaving badly - Airships, Kentucky Straight: Stories, Close Range, and Knockemstiff - to name a few, that they're all starting to blur together in my brain like a big fleshy ball of rednecks drinking, farting and shooting at one another.

Add another one to the list, by yet another terrific author.

Peek into the world of men who work at chemical factories, gas stations and wastewater treatment plants. As you might expect, their lives ar...more
Larry Bassett
I am not a hunter. I am not an outdoor person. I am not the rough and ready type at all. I do not play contact sports – or, for that matter, much any sport. Not even poker or darts. I walk the dog. I read. I take care of all of my ADLs as necessary.

I do live in the south in the Bible Belt and try to acknowledge that by paying some attention to southern literature. I joined the GR group On the Southern Literary Trail some time ago and have discovered quite a few new authors as a result. I have j...more
Diane Barnes
I have to say, for a first book, these short stories were superbly written. Of the 10 stories in the book, "Poachers" was my favorite. Actually more of a novella at 60 pages, I would have been happy to see this one expanded into a novel. All of the stories were rich in characterizations of the people, and descriptions of the woods and swamps of Alabama. I have been reading Franklin backwards, starting with "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" and "A Tilted World" and haven't been disappointed in any...more
Has a rocky start but eventually hits its stride and finishes strong.

After the first few stories, I was worried. Not that I hated them, just that they fell well below my expectations. Yet once Franklin finds his voice and his grove good things happen.

Would recommend this to fans of southern Gothic fiction/ country noir/ grit lit.
Having read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, I was somewhat excited to get into Tom Franklin's debut collection of stories about the swampy corner of Alabama that he nested in as a young boy. I had put it on the "I'll get to it some day" shelf. It was selected as a group read this month within the group On the Southern Literary Trail, so I decided no time like the present. What a good decision.

Franklin get's right to it. To my taste, there's not a bad one in there.......but they're all bad from t...more
Someone told me the other day that William Gay had passed away. That momentary deflation I associate with the death of familiar artists left me pondering legacy and contemporaries. It would prove approapirate to assemble my own introspection. I always felt that Gay was improvising; he was an autodidact channeling a lifetime of fractured stories. Tom Franklin took the pitch as if he owned it. The stories here establish his talent as one for the ages.
May 09, 2013 smetchie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jamie
Recommended to smetchie by: Jamie
Anything else written by Tom Franklin? Lay it on me. I can't get enough.

This book was a present from my dear friend who knows me and loves me.
Thanks, dear friend!
The raw power of Franklin's writing makes me swoon. There are stunning scenes and imagery that made me read a sentence or paragraph over and over again. The only reason this isn't a 5 star is because I just read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and it dazzled me a teeny tiny bit more.
Brett Starr
Outstanding collection of short stories!

"Poachers" is the kind of short story collection that gets you hooked and sets a high standard for other books of short stories! I found this book by chance and I'm really glad I did!

The book has eleven stories in all, the last story being the title story "Poachers", which the author calls a novella.

The first story in the book "Intro. / Hunting Years" is actually a true story of the author's childhood hunting days in South Alabama. It's a great story an...more
Michelle Newby
By Tom Franklin
Harper Collins, 192 pgs
Rating: Read This Book!

Poachers is a collection of 11 short stories. I have gone back to my roots with this one. I "discovered" American regional short fiction 20 years ago and my favorite region is the south. It's all so very Gothic. Spanish moss and kudzu, Appalachia and Gulf coast, alligator and Thoroughbred, Pentecostal and voodoo priestess, plantation and slave quarter. One gets the idea that the primeval is alive and lurking in Miss...more
This contained several short stories by the author Tom Franklin. I enjoyed almost all of them. The ones I especially liked were Grit, Shubuta, Dinosaurs, and the story the book got its name after Poachers. All of them were dark, violent and alcohol fueled. Some of them were hard to read but the way they were written just kept me riveted. I especially liked Poachers. It was the longest story and the best. Not all of the stories are winners; some of them I did not care for but this book still rate...more
Ned Mozier
I enjoyed Franklin's first book of stories, but may have had too high expectations due to the accolades on the cover from Roth, Ford and Hannah. I sensed some stories were Franklin trying to find his voice, and succeeding by the time I reached the Poachers novella. He holds back and builds drama by slowly revealing character facts and motivations. Suspecting also that my heightened expectations hindered my reading, feeling like an obese rich man at the table not appreciating his wealth and seeki...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘I come back, where life is slowly dying, and I poach for stories.’

This is a collection of ten short stories following an introductory tale of the author’s childhood hunting days. This was Tom Franklin’s debut short story collection, which was first published in 1999.
These are bleak stories, in various settings along the Alabama River. The title story is a novella, and gives a more completely realised dark world which most of the other stories provide aspects of. For me, the memorable stories ar...more
Ben Loory
Nov 12, 2009 Ben Loory rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ben by: Brian
well-written, dark and surprising stories about a group of people i've never encountered in literature before (although they are at times somewhat reminiscent of (and much realer than) the cannibals in cormac mccarthy's The Road). bunch of uneducated guys in the woods shooting and skinning and eating things and often killing people by accident or on purpose. lots of bones and dogs and mud and liquor; very few women and nothing approaching a love story. this is some dark stuff, though never carto...more
I really liked Franklin's novel, but enjoyed his short stories a bit less. Nonetheless, some were quite good. He focuses on male-bonding and relationships, hunting, and backcountry Alabama. I liked best the title entry, as well as "Grit," "Shubuta," and "Triathalon." If you like animals you may want to steer clear, especially "The Ballad of Duane Juarez," in which a few cats come to their demise. In fact, a lot of things end up dead.Overall, a pretty good collection.
Trixie Fontaine
I know I'm generous to a fault with four and five star ratings, but these stories are sheer perfection and worth TEN stars as far as I'm concerned. Bundled together in this book make it one of my favorite fictions read in the past few years and move all of Tom Franklin's books near the top of my must-read list (but not all at once, because I'll have to stretch them out and savor them).

I sometimes struggle with shorts -- getting into each one then moving on to the next one -- but these were easy...more
Friends. That's what I call my literary companions, my favorite books, the books that take me on a new and different journey every time I read them.

Tom Franklin's Poachers is a friend of mine. It's a book for the journey. An author, in my judgment, has nothing more to give than words for the public good, and Franklin delivers this with a bare-knuckle punch. Whether or not a writer has done his moral duty is proven in the reading of his work: I've read Franklin's book straight through three or fo...more
Alex Hoshor
all stylistically great stories. but save for a few of them, from lack of substance, they didn’t haunt the way i would have liked. though the few that did, fucking did. see esp. the title story poachers, which creeps up on novella weight at nearly fifty swamp-dredged pages, and the ballad of duane juarez, short and sweetly disquieting.
Country Noir at it's very finest! The stories leave a knot of dread in your gut and the amount of gore, rather the amount of gore shrugged off would have you taken aback and gasping. This is powerful writing, evocative of the surroundings, of the grit, of the dirt, of downtrodden aspirations and motivations. You can smell the jungle around you in the stillness.

And the best story in the book is in the Introduction. I have complained often in the past that a book's Introduction should be at it's...more
Brandon James
Poachers, the story that shares the name with this short story collection by Tom Franklin, is the real stand-out in this collection and a harbinger of things to come. The rest of the stories felt a bit rushed and in a way, incomplete. Most stories focus on people down on their luck, or people preying on others, in rural Alabama. One story in particular is rather brutal in its treatment of animals. A couple of stories share characters and I would have loved to have seen more of that.

I'm glad I st...more
Stereotypical Southern redneck characters with a hefty dose of misogyny. The praise is overblown.
This guy taught my Creative Nonfiction course senior year at Knox. Great teacher, great writer.
Although I did not grow up in Alabama, I was born into a hunting family. Making our daily pilgrimage through "the kudzu netted graveyard" that was our environs during hunting season, deer hunting was more than just a hobby for my family. It was a way of life, bringing a certain perspective to how one viewed the world at large. Even as a child I realized it was as if redemption could only be found at the bottom of a Budweiser or in the blood of a fresh kill (quasi-Biblical, yes?).

Like the author,...more
Bill Sanborn
I did like the content of this collection of short stories. I could relate to the content simply becuase I have been an avid hunter most of my life and the storylines made real sense to me. However, the ending of every story left far too much to the imagination. I'm all for having an ending of a book or story leave you thinking or wanting more, but this collection took that notion a little too far.
I would be interested in reading more works from this writer based on the content alone but all in...more
Tom Franklin's first book: "Poachers" (a collection of short stories tied together with the theme of poaching in its various forms) became required reading after I was blown away by his grisly account of the Mitchem Beat War in post-Civil War southern Alabama in his novel "Hell at the Breech". It certainly doesn't disappoint. To the contrary, it presages an amazing storytelling talent. Mr. Franklin possesses a keen talent for conveying mood and and emotion through raw realism, a talent few write...more
Man but I loved this book of short stories! I never imagined southern Alabama could be so dark and deadly but there are many things I haven't imagined... yet. I might have to go back to Mobile and visit the place.

Like the blurbs spew out all over the cover of this book... Raymond Carver's in the south... a world created by Cormac McCarthy... imagination of Faulkner... yeah, I could see all of that. And I would add a bit of Stephen King's creepiness to the mix.

The book's namesake is the longest s...more
yeah so i'm looking at scar lover by harry crews, a story i've read and i see off to the side that people also liked this, those who have read scar lover from crews. so here i am.

on the kindle.


"introduction hunting years" all lower case...so sue me. make me do time. heh! 1st person this, alabama, late december, eye-narrator standing on a trestle...he'd heard a panther scream whilst standing on the trestle w/his bro.....yeah...only i was on the montreal meadows or getting there and i hear...more
Dustin Abraham
This collection of short stories is one of the best books I've read in a while. Going into the book, I thought that every story would literally be about poachers. As a hunter/outdoorsman, I was interested. Maybe you could somehow link each story to poaching symbolically, but only the one story is about hunting/fishing poachers.
None of the characters in this book are good people. Each one is despicable in some way or another. Yet, you can often find yourself sympathizing with them. I don't know...more
My first exposure to Tom Franklin's writing. I enjoy and admire well written short stories. Poachers is that. A solid collection of short stories. The final story, Poachers, was my favorite. Fleshed out and round. For some reason I am drawn to hardscrabble fiction, "southern grit" works. Poachers is a good example. I think that these works are not necessarily limited to the South exclusively. I have found the same essence permeates other states that I have visited . . . . . rural Wisconsin, Illi...more
Beth Maddaus
I stumbled upon Tom Franklin's writing in a bookstore at Logan Airport last summer when I was looking for something to read on a trip. "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" caught my eye and I enjoyed it so much that I didn't even mind all the delays and flight changes that occurred during our trip to Europe-I just read. Having enjoyed "Crooked Letter" so much I was anxious to try another of Tom Franklin's books so purchased "Poachers". It is a collection of short stories and most of the stories are...more
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On the Southern L...: Poachers, Initial Impressions 16 34 Jul 12, 2014 08:28PM  
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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 Smonk The Alumni Grill II: Anthology of Southern Writers

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“He buys Playboy magazines and looks through them once, then gives them to me. That’s what it’s like to be rich.

Here’s what it’s like to be poor. Your wife leaves you because you can’t find a job because there aren’t any jobs to find. You empty the jar of pennies on the mantel to buy cigarettes. You hate to answer the phone; it can’t possibly be good news. When your friends invite you out, you don’t go. After a while, they stop inviting. You owe them money, and sometimes they ask for it. You tell them you’ll see what you can scrape up.

Which is this: nothing.”
“In the divorce my ex got everything. Even kept her composure.” 1 likes
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