Trudi's Reviews > The Outlaw Album: Stories

The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell
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Mar 29, 12

bookshelves: 2012, short-stories, crime-mystery, heart-of-darkness, prose-that-sings, a-sense-of-place, the-big-letdown, modern-lit
Read from March 25 to 28, 2012

I know Daniel Woodrell can write -- his pen is his sword and he wields it with deathly and thrilling precision. Nowhere is that on display more than with his novel Winter's Bone which left me breathless and humbled and panting for more. The story of young Ree and her perilous hunt for her missing meth-making father is one of rage and pain and beauty, and knocked me flat I loved it so much. It instantly made it onto my all time favorites list. With this collection of mostly very short stories, Woodrell is unable to cast the same lyrical spell over me, and so it is with huge and devastating regret I give The Outlaw Album a paltry two stars.

The collection contains some bright moments of fierce-eyed intensity, but overall, the experience feels muted and unsatisfying. Woodrell has proven to be such a vivid, emotive, and wrenching writer, yet here the effect is just too subtle to do its job (a fault that likely lies more with me than with him). I am not the best reader (or critic) of short stories. It is a problematic format for me that I don't swoon over easily. Just getting a whiff of a story is usually not enough; I want more, more, and more! I realize that yes, in some instances less can often translate into so much more and that's where the short story's power lies, I just didn't feel it here.

In his collection Crimes in Southern Indiana, Frank Bill is ruthless, his prose savage. There is a shocking, almost overdone, Southern grotesquerie to it all and I loved it!. In contrast to wild Bill, I came to Woodrell's writing hoping for a tempered, mature, evocative approach to essentially the same subject matter, and while there are hints of that, there are more misses (by a mile) than hits.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Maciek (new) - added it

Maciek I want to read this, too. Would love to hear what you think. :)

Trudi I just started and so far ... loving it! I just love his language and turns of phrase :)

message 3: by Maciek (new) - added it

Maciek Cool! You need to read Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock. I really enjoyed his novel and the collection is really good.

Trudi Oh absolutely! I have a copy from my library and will definitely be getting to it soon. You have to give Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories a try. It is awesome too :)

message 5: by Maciek (new) - added it

Maciek Thanks, Trudi! I'll try to find that one to check it out.

message 6: by Maciek (new) - added it

Maciek Aw. I was looking forward to this one. Still, please give Donald Ray Pollock's Knockemstiff a try. That's a good collection. I must review it.

Trudi For sure Maciek! And don't let my review discourage you from this collection. I am a poor short story reader sometimes, and others have given it high praise :)

message 8: by Maciek (new) - added it

Maciek Thanks, Trudi. I love short stories and will read this at some point. Only now I'm not so keen. LOL. Pollock's collection is really good. I think you'll enjoy it. :)

message 9: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling Great review, Trudi. I'm sorry this was a disappointment, but if it's any consolation, now I'm curious about checking out Winter's Bone!

Trudi LOL! Thanks Wendy. I can't recommend Winter's Bone enough. Ree is just so awesome and so memorable ... and reminded me a lot of Temple from The Reapers Are the Angels - just to sweeten the deal further ;-)

message 11: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling Oh, good to know! I thought the film was terrific--nice to hear the book is even better. (PS, I'd already "liked" your review of WB when you posted it, hah.)

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