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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,200 ratings  ·  167 reviews

It's 1911 and the townsfolk of Old Texas, Alabama, have had enough. Every Saturday night for a year, E. O. Smonk has been destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, cheating and beating men, all from behind the twin barrels of his Winchester 45-70 caliber over-and-under rifle. Syphilitic, consumptive, gouty, and goitered, an expert with explosives and knives.

Hardcover, 254 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2006)
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The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray PollockWinter's Bone by Daniel WoodrellKnockemstiff by Donald Ray PollockCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom FranklinDry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman
Country Noir
316 books — 260 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyTrue Grit by Charles PortisThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Literary Westerns
249 books — 347 voters

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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,200 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-gothic
Hick Lit., Grit Lit., Call it what you please
Southern Gothic, Rebel Sleaze
Won't set yer mind at ease.

So pay Hell Mary, congress again
Confess to us yer sin

I say to ye, a damn goodt story
Smonk... in all his glory
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it

excuse me, smonk!!!

smonk smonk smonk smonk smonk

now isn't that fun to say??

one more time: smonk

i would rather just keep saying "smonk" than write this book report, even though i thoroughly enjoyed the book. it is just too tempting to smonk.

now i understand...

okay, but for serious, because goodreads is a place for the serious reviews of books, not just a place for made-up words that shout at you float after float after float.

this is my second tom franklin, and while i don't think it was a

Who, or what, the hell is Smonk?

Mister E.O. Smonk ain't no normal fellow. He's of the devil says one legend.

Some citizens claim he's of the devil but I say there's no of about it, he is the devil says another.

And the rumors . . . my goodness. He was born with teeth. He killed his mother. He bit the midwife, and gave her "ray bees."

Only one thing is certain . . .

. . . if you seek him, check Hell first.

When Eugene Oregon Smonk unleashes his own brand of HELL on Old Texas, Alabama, its resi
Paul Bryant
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned, novels
Here are a few words you could use to describe Smonk

Depraved disgusting debased debauched degraded scabrous malevolent syphilitic grotesque graphic gross gory gouty goitered violent horrible cruel mean very violent have I already said that shameless vicious vile putrid

And there are no doubt others along those lines. Now, fans of this book add a very important other word : hilarious.

But alas, mes amis, I myself cannot add that word. Every page I read of Smonk I was unlaughing fit to unburst. My
Richard Derus
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.9* of five

The Publisher Says: It's 1911 and the secluded southwestern Alabama town of Old Texas has been besieged by a scabrous and malevolent character called E. O. Smonk. Syphilitic, consumptive, gouty and goitered, Smonk is also an expert with explosives and knives. He abhors horses, goats and the Irish. Every Saturday night for a year he's been riding his mule into Old Texas, destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, cheating and beating men all from behind the twin b
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is a testament to pressing matters that I finished this two days ago and truly didn't find the space to put it to wraps. Smonk worried me. Several times I feared I would injure myself laughing. I was also worried that members of an unnamed disease cult would butcher me. Tom Franklin has a sense of pitch which astonishes me. No doubt his craven Christian is named Portis for obvious reasons. I liked that touch.

Enclosed in the back of the novel was a receipt. I treasure such discoveries. This i
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Anyone interested in Southern US contemporary fiction who hasn't yet made acquaintance with Tom Franklin needs to do so. If you prefer a slice of the old South, 2003's Hell at the Breach , while super violent, is just a terrific (and terrifying) fictional account of a real skirmish in South Alabama. If the old stuff doesn't float your boat, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter : part thriller, part examination of race relations in today's Mississippi. If you're a Cormac McCarthy fan (an author that Fr ...more
Michael Mullen
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Eugene Oregon Smonk is 5'3", has one eye, is syphilitic, consumptive, gouty and goitered, and is so wide that he has to walk through doorways sideways. He's also a murderous, adulterous, incestuous, hateful SOB. And 100% fantastic. Smonk is one of the most original characters I've ever read.

The easily squeamish should stay away, as Franklin never lets up with the uber-nastiness. But if you can swallow the gore-fest, you'll be rewarded by some of the finest writing in the genre, with action that
The Shayne-Train
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was amazingly bloody and raw, like an open, untreated wound.

The characters, even the ones you absolutely hated, had such depth to them. Some find redemption, some get a well-deserved death, some of them just get the "ray bees," but all of them leave an impression.

To me, this book brought with it almost a feeling of anxiety. You know that hollow ache you get in your stomach when you've intentionally procrastinated doing something urgent and important? I had that feeling the entire time
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, western
It'll be quite the challenge to find a nit to pick with this one. Let's see if I'm up to it. RTC? ...more
Wayne Barrett
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it

This was a fun and adventurous read... in a grotesque kind of way. There were moments I found myself laughing out loud. Smonk was a tough old boy, but I think Evangeline might have been a little tougher.
John Bruni
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very transgressive western novel. I love westerns. I love transgressive fiction. Imagine my joy upon reading the adventures of EO Smonk! It's bawdy. It's dirty. It's vile. SO vile! None of the characters are likable, but they are all interesting in dark and ugly ways. But no matter how grotesquely the book begins, you will have no clue as to the depravity waiting for you in the last, say, two to three chapters. It borders on pure horror, and it is absolutely sickening. I loved it! ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Do not read this book. Don't do it.

It is rude and crude and not civil.

Unless, you can imagine a dinner party with this author, Tom Franklin, Donald Ray Pollock and Shirley Jackson. All at the same table.

If you think you could live that night out, you can probably read this book.

Bye - I have to go to church now.
Old Texas, Alabama

Prepare yourself...

Smonk started out with a bang (literally) and the action never let up once. This is Tom Franklin's most vile and horrid book to date. Although Smonk himself is appalling and amusing at the same time, I found much more delight in other's stories about him - his history and superstitions. But my favorite character was Walton, the leader of the Christian Deputies, who as a northerner felt a personal mission to bring morality back to the South. Franklin creat
Franklin pulls out the stops for his second novel. This is an over the top comic nightmare combining Peckinpah and Leone movies (leaning more toward the comic absurdity of Leone with the brutality of bloody Sam intact), Old Testament (esp. Sodom & Gomorrah), David Lynch, horror movies, southern gothic, and Cormac McCarthy with the volume turned up to eleven. Witches, madmen, rabies, machine guns, relentless gore and violence, scatological references, zombies, insane religious cults, crazed anima ...more
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! I was expecting 'grit lit' and the title character was a Southern Gothic version of The Judge in Blood Meridian. This story was incredibly funny and bizarre .... all taboos were trampled, especially no limits at all with the widows in Old Texas, Alabama. (view spoiler). Yay ray bees!! ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
If Larry McMurtry or Cormac McCarthy were to have included all manners of perversity and unnatural acts in their western fiction, in astounding and copious amounts, the result would be something akin to this book, though this story takes place in the South. While I enjoyed it very much, there are only a few individuals I would suggest this book to. Violent, crazy, immoral, and debauched. Just about as depraved as any book I have ever read, and that's saying something. Methinks even a director li ...more
Andy Weston
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This opens with a bang, the first four chapters are amongst the most savage and grotesque as I have read in fiction. It’s 1911 in Alabama and E.O. Smonk and Evavangeline, both thoroughly despicable characters, are running amok on separate paths of destruction, sharing some bit characters in their storylines, but otherwise remaining oblivious of each other’s existence as they move toward the day of reckoning. Franklin’s rural Alabama is populated by such depravity that their actions are placed in ...more
Here we have a Tom Franklin novel masquerading as a Cormac McCarthy novel, quotation mark-less and spare. It features E.O. Smonk, a one-eyed, goitered, syphilitic, tuberculous killing machine. Also Evavangeline, a fifteen year old, fiery-locked whore prone to biting.

But what begins as a McCarthy rip-off grows into so much more, a completely unexpected genre mashup with a rich mythology and twists and turns to boot. I can't even describe what happens without giving it away, but if you read this b
Yuri Zbitnoff
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-gothic

Let's see...

A mean, violent, drunken, syphilitic, gout-ridden, goitered, one-eyed protagonist. A murderous prostitute. A religious zealot who drinks his own piss when he has lustful thoughts. Leeches on testicles. Burning dogs and possums. Rats. Rabies. Dysentery. Guns. Witches. Revenge. Dark family secrets. Buckets of blood.

Yup. This book rules.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was scared about this one. I didn't think I could handle all the gore. Lucky for me my sense of humor overcame my gag reflex. ...more
John Wood
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bawdy, bloody,strange,sinister and just plain fun to read! Just who or what is E. O. Smonk and what is up with the town of Old Texas, Alabama in 1911. Mr. Smonk has decided to terrorize this town, but as the story unfolds, you'll realize that this town isn't exactly a normal town. Geographically, an Eastern or a Southern, stylistically a Western, this tongue in cheek horror tale has many twists and turns and I (being a bit twisted) enjoyed every one. ...more
Joshua Jorgensen
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Smonk was a wild read. It was unpredictable, funny, dark, and a southern gothic gem. It felt like a strange blend of Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Allan Poe. Bizarre. But, again. I enjoyed the read.
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I'm not in the mood for this. I'll come back to it later. ...more
T. Frohock
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
You'll be ashamed of yourself for laughing at certain passages ... then again, maybe not. ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: western
The horror. The horror. Clever and dark images abound in this book full of worse-than-circus freaks. Had trouble wanting to pick it up and read it, not for poor writing, but I just had no interest in the cartoon like devils within the pages.
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A killer western filled to spilling with looney tunes violence and near parodic vulgarity that keeps shifting the templates of who you're supposed to be rooting for and why. Smonk himself is almost a satire of legend, a man who was born with rabies and teeth to bite with, who killed his mother violently directly out of the wound and never stops killing until the day he dies. He is a portrait of grotesquery, animal-like, all untamed id and in spite of the fact that he is a walking pietri dish of ...more
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most charmingly raunchy books I have ever read. Violent, foul-mouthed, and downright salty, I absolutely adored SMONK. Has to be read to be believed.

I'm not going to go into details (and I assure you, they would be gory details), but if you like a really well-written, yet violently absurd yarn, this is the book for you. The period style of the writing only illuminates the graphic nature of the scenes.

After reading this, I immediately went out and bought two of Tom Franklin's other bo
Barton Smock
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Barton by: Alex Hoshor
what begins as a mere belly-of-a-demon lark becomes a tale so gravid that by its end one might feel a twinge of disappointment that what seemed destined to pop from so full a middle instead is allowed to deflate at the mouth of too much exposition. granted, its ear never loses itself to a teacher's hand nor does its voice ever widow the narrator. but is at its best when mad and mispronounced, two things too much tamed by coherence in its final pages. that said, Smonk may get the title of the boo ...more
Jun 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Read this after Hell at the Breech, and was a little disappointed. Still believe Franklin is an awesome writer, but for some reason i struggled with parts of it, especially early on. Will be worth the effort when you stick it out to the end. Always amazes me how Franklin can be so violent and then so funny in same paragraph. Lulls you along at times then lowers the boom. Maybe I need to rethink my rating. In any event, if choosing a Franklin go with Breech, but this isn't a bad second. ...more
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On the Southern L...: Tom Franklin: Smonk 5 34 Jul 31, 2012 06:02PM  

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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

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26 likes · 6 comments
“Who wouldn't admire the gall of a fellow brings a machine gun and a peck of hired killers to his own goddamn trial? Who wouldn't admire a fellow never leaves a trail of evidence? That's got this far in the world and galled so many folks and killed twice that number and cheated the rest, all without being blowed to itty bitty pieces or hanged by his goddamn neck or succumbing to one of countless infirmities he seems to collect like a goddamn hobby, hell yeah I admire the son-of-a-bitch.” 0 likes
“Smonk ignored the mule for the whore it was, off with the first little shit to put ass to it.” 0 likes
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