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3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,498 Ratings  ·  139 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

Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 30th 2000 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1999)
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The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray PollockWinter's Bone by Daniel WoodrellKnockemstiff by Donald Ray PollockDry Bones in the Valley by Tom BoumanCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Country Noir
243 books — 200 voters
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Alabama Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Cathrine ☯️
“A glimpse into the world proves that horror is nothing more than reality.”
Alfred Hitchcock

Tom Franklin once wrote that he is driven to write by the need to “tell of my Alabama, to reveal it, lush and green and full of death.”

When I added this to my TBR a ways back I thought it was about a game warden and poaching. Ever since reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter I have wanted more. This is Franklin's debut of short stories. I don’t think I can describe this selection better than the book bl
Dec 03, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it
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
È sempre da segnalare l’arguzia delle traduzioni adottate nei titoli: da ‘Bracconieri’, secondo me titolo efficace evocativo e non abusato, oltre che titolo del racconto più lungo e generalmente considerato più importante di questa raccolta, si è passati ad ‘Alabama Blues’, titolo che a me sembra fuorviante, evasivo, e identico ad altri mille.


Davvero non so perché così spesso così tanti commentatori e critici tirano in ballo Raymond Carver per
Mar 30, 2017 Lauren rated it liked it
Shelves: realism, crime
"Goddamn, son," Frank David whispers. "I hate to civilize you."

"Poachers" is a novella in the collection Poachers; naming a short story collection after its star novella is a perfectly fine convention except for how it currently inconveniences me, because I like Poachers but love "Poachers."

"Poachers" centers on general store owner Kirxy, whose wife died some years ago and whose most valued human connection since has been with the three Gates boys, the area's half-feral orphans who telephone cat
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
Aug 09, 2015 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Better to rely on guns and alcohol these people must've thought. It is all about survival. Yet, Franklin shows a humane side in them, opposed to the darkness they seemed to be surrounded with.

Compared to Frank Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories , this is grit lit with a softer touch, not as violent, but just as bleak and desperate.
Franklin manages to insert some touches of dry humor, especially in the Introduction when he tells us why he needed to hunt,
To be fair I'm not a big fan of short stories. I prefer a good novel. These are very well written but as a female I didn't really connect with the happenings in the stories such as hunting, loading cats in a trunk, driving a front loader etc. I will say if you are sensitive to animals being hunted or killed you might want to pass on this one. I liked the eeriness of Poachers the best. I think I will try one of Franklin's novels bc that might suit me best.
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
Diane Barnes
Jul 07, 2014 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2010 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 04, 2013 Bibliophile rated it really liked it
The snake venom had bleached the boy's pupils white, and the skin around his eyesockets had required grafts. The surgeons had had to use skin from his buttocks, and because his buttocks were hairy, the skin around his eyes began to grow hair too. In the years to come, the loggers who clear-cut the land along the river would occasionally stop in the store, less from a need to buy something than from a curiosity to see the hermit with the milky, hairy eyes.

That's Tom Franklin's idea of a happy end
Jul 07, 2014 Jeanette rated it really liked it
Rarely do I give short stories a 4. Just not my favorite length and here were quite a few very short ones. They seem, to me, also about a 9 out of 10 on the macho scale and would especially appeal to male readers. Grit was such a story that I'll never look at the quarry shifter machines quite the same way again.

Tom Franklin started out good as any pro and has just improved from there. Marvelous exposure to Alabama pine woods rural and Southern youth experience too.

Chewy too, but not way over the
Jun 01, 2013 Erika rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-like-em-short
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.
Apr 08, 2013 smetchie rated it really liked it
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!
Iľja Rákoš
Mar 14, 2016 Iľja Rákoš rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
As the 20th century draws to its close, in the deep South the working poor and the country poor battle sadistic fate, debilitating heat, and soul-scarring routine. Some are resigned to simply endure, all in the service of maintaining the only existence they’re capable of imagining. While for others, the dream – no matter how improbable – is to just pack up the car and get going, get out, and get anywhere on nothing but collective wit and fumes, perhaps get as far away as Alaska and the rumored w ...more
Nov 02, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
Poachers by Tom Franklin is gloomy, bleak, melancholy… A kind of Southern Gothic noir, dark, at times brooding, offering no excuses and asking no forgiveness. The people in Franklin’s tales are living lives of quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) desperation, they know that the best times are likely behind them because, as it says on a sign nailed to a tree in one of these stories, Jesus is not coming. Not for them.

This collection is made up of ten stories of varying length, and one essay that ser
Jan 04, 2011 Snotchocheez rated it really liked it
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
Ben Loory
Nov 12, 2009 Ben Loory rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Oct 30, 2011 wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: franklin
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 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
Michelle Lancaster
Mar 29, 2013 Michelle Lancaster rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2017 Craigtator rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-rated
A good example of Hillbilly Gothic. Strong stories of rural life in Alabama. Certainly doesn't have the energy and nihilism of Pollock, but still a good picture of a culture of which I can barely conceive.
Ned Mozier
Jul 02, 2013 Ned Mozier rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2014 Sylvia rated it really liked it
I generally don't like short story collections because they are.... short. I feel cheated when a story is presented and resolved in less than an hour of reading. But WHOA. Franklin's stories are powerful, insightful, chewable. They stick with me for days after reading, like an intense and vivid dream. Taken together, the similarities of their backdrop become a bit overwhelming, requiring a certain self-discipline in reading. Sort of like eating one Oreo is wonderful, but eating the whole package ...more
Pat Pujolas
Feb 24, 2015 Pat Pujolas rated it really liked it
All in all, a great collection here. The longest story (the title novella) is easily the strongest, but there are a few other great ones here too, and then a couple of half-baked tales based on disturbing images. Love this author's voice and ambitious choice of subject matter, BUT I HATE IT when educated writers (usually they are MFAs or graduates of Iowa Writers Workshop) try to write/sound like uneducated hillbillies. I get it, that's what poachers are, and this book attempts to understand the ...more
Jul 21, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
I loved the voice in these pieces and the backdrop of Southern Alabama. The novelette that the book takes its name from sticks in my mind, but lacked the edge that the other stories held. Franklin has a gift for presenting male characters on the edge and the choices they make from the position. The first story in the book that takes place in the sandblasting plant had characters who were loud on the page and whose choices gave hope without subtracting from who they were when we met them.
Sep 03, 2015 Doug rated it really liked it
Three or four stars, I went with four because I got through them pretty quick, and they weren't a chore, unlike this other one I will mercifully be done with soon. One or two here I didn't really see the point of, especially the cat one), and I didn't care about anybody in the novella (why do the Gates get a free ride from everyone?), but like I said, I got through them pretty quick so they held my interest.
Alex Hoshor
May 17, 2012 Alex Hoshor rated it liked it
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.
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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...

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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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