Nicole's Reviews > The Outlaw Album: Stories

The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell
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's review
Apr 08, 12

bookshelves: short-stories, noir, story, language
Read from March 26 to April 08, 2012

Having enjoyed Winter's Bone and having some further interest in the Ozarks (I was born around there, though we didn't stay long enough for me to remember it), I picked up this slim volume of stories. After two or three, I took an annoyed break - Woodrell seemed like a one-trick pony - good with words, but too reliant on darkness/violence as a force for moving the story forward. As a reader, I am as bloodthirsty as they come - I just hate when an honest, enjoyable bit of the ol' ultraviolence is gussied up as "fine literature".

Having read all twelve - it's less of a reliance on violence, and more of an actual genuine literary experiment with it. In only a few instances is there much description of the act of violence. "Night Stand" is probably the most explicit, and also the story in which the act is most primal and most senseless (homeowner reflexively stabs clinically psychotic intruder in self-defense). Really, the bulk of each story is concerned with the before and after, precursors and consequences, human complexities. Either the state of mind of the killer, or the effects on the victim(s), or both, are laid bare. This is a lot more chilling and affecting than I could've imagined. These are stories that will stick with you, even if you are, like me, more or less completely inured to fictional slaughter.

Still and all - to hear Woodrell tell it, you can't go hiking in the Ozarks without kicking up the old skull of a stashed body. I don't quite buy that version of the truth. Do watch out for the water moccasins, though.
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