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Twisted Tree

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  387 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
Hayley Jo Zimmerman is gone. Taken. And the people of small-town Twisted Tree must come to terms with this terrible event their loss, their place in it, and the secrets they all carry.
In this brilliantly written novel, one girl s story unfolds through the stories of those who knew her. Among them, a supermarket clerk recalls an encounter with a disturbingly thin Hayley J
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 24th 2009 by Mariner Books (first published 2009)
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The following is a quiz for readers: How patient are you? How much do you love poetry? Do you admire wordsmiths? If a book lacks a plot, do you find yourself saying, “What the hell, they’re overrated anyhow”? If there’s no main character to hitch your wagon to, will you careen off the road?

If the answer to the above preguntas is “Very,” “A lot,” “Yes,” “Yes,” and “No, sir!” then you might enjoy Kent Meyers’ western hodgepodge, TWISTED TREE. It’s similar (but different) to OLIVE KITTERIDGE and WI
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The chapters of "Twisted Tree" connect – sometimes deeply, other times at a glance – to draw by absence the life of Hayley Jo Zimmerman, and reveal, beyond a horrific tale of abduction and murder, the reverberations, however intangible or slight, that one person's life can have on a community. With passages of understated depth and a painstakingly crafted delicacy of language, Meyers' South Dakota town becomes an almost mystic place, rich with history, failure, innuendo, and joy, with every resi ...more
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is a fascinating first chapter in which a demented serial killer traps his prey, a young anorexic girl he has first on the internet by pretending to be a female 16-year old. To add insult to injury, before he kidnaps and kills her, he spends months convincing her to become anorexic.

The rest of the book consists of short stories revolving around the lives of the townspeople after the murder. This book brings to mind, "Olive Kitteridge", the Pulitzer prize winning novel set in Maine, which
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a "good time" do not read this book. This doesn't mean i didn't like it - i did - but it's serious and revolves around the murder of a young girl and the effect that a life (not a big life or a long life) has on the people around them. The small thoughts, the guilt we put on ourselves when we don't do what we think we should have, the sweet memories.

Kent Myers (who lives in South Dakota)is a very good writer. I read this because of 'The Work of Wolves' which is also not very funny and is ver
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gaze deeply at the cover photo of this novel and you will feel just how vast the landscape beyond the barbed wire fence is, how expansive the sky. You may even feel the wind blowing, see it whispering through the bristly grassland and blowing back the silken mane of the mare who stands by that fenceline, her coat blushed by the vermilion tones of a Southwestern sunset. Open the book up, begin reading, and author Kent Meyers will take you the rest of the way, away to a modern Arcadia where the ab ...more
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful challenge in writing (and reading) Twisted Tree is! This is no ordinary murder mystery, no clean inclusion of the crime thriller genre - and as a novel, it flows more as poetry or even lyric non-fiction, although the people and story are all of Kent Meyers's creation (I'd call it a 'novel novel' but then have to slap myself for being too cheeky).
A loose orbit of Twisted Tree, South Dakota, townspeople share their remembrances of both an anorexic sex-crime victim (Haley Joe Z
Apr 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a little bit As I Lay Dying and a little bit Spoon River Anthology. The shifting points of view are reminiscent of As I Lay Dying, but the whole is not as connected, has less plot, more like Spoon River. (And I don't think Meyers quite nails character/voice or makes you read between the lines the way Faulkner does. I don't really feel like I'm in an entirely different head with each new point of view with this book as I do with Faulkner.) If you are looking for some truly excellent prose ...more
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved how Hayley Jo's story was created by exploring the lives of small-town people who had contact with her before her murder. Very impressed by the subtle and surprising ways the different characters' chapters were linked together to create a cohesive whole. Many of the chapters were strong enough individually to read as short stories. Beautiful, original, and stunning prose throughout. There was very little from Hayjay herself, or her killer (an interstate serial killer who targets anorexics) ...more
Judith Shadford
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book--so much contradiction...exquisitely beautiful writing of the most harrowing stories. That passage where the rattlesnake moves up Angela's leg and into her lap was so powerful I can still feel its weight. Ultimately I was left with the sense of cosmic distances between each little cluster of people, yet they are still connected with the finest of threads so that nothing happens in isolation. Nothing at all.
If the large cast of characters is a little hard to keep sorted (thi
Jan 25, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So done!!!! Started off sort of creepy, then turned weird, then not too interesting. Each chapter was separate from any real story line, and if I did not like the chapter I could just skip it and not miss anything about any story line. I liked the last chapter the best. I would not recommend reading this as it did nothing for me. I do however recognize what the author was trying to accomplish, and so I give him credit for that.
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hedged about buying this book but this past week I realized I'd been drawn to the book since it came back in hardcover and unless I intended to read the first chapter every time I walked into a bookstore for the rest of my life, I may as well buy it and pick it up over and over again in the comfort of my own home.

I love the West. I love horses. (The bookseller asked me, when I bought it, is it about horses?-- based on the cover illustration. It's really really not.) I love this genre I'd neve
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contemporary small town life in South Dakota is illuminated through a series of loosely connected vignettes that arc around the shared impact of one family’s personal tragedy. The name of the town, Twisted Tree, serves as an apt metaphor not only for the structure of interconnected relationships between the residents, but also for the rampant dysfunction that underscores many of their individual lives. The reader is cast as a voyeur, peeking through windows at moments captured in time, bearing w ...more
Dec 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As previous reviewers have said, this book was more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Also, I didn't really think Haley Jo's story "unfolded" through all of the other characters as the synopsis promised. I'd go so far as to say Haley Jo was plopped into each of the short stories as an afterthought to tie them all together into a theoretically cohesive novel after the whole thing was basically written. Haley Jo was someone I would've like to know and understand more, but instead I ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is written in chapters, like most books, however each chapter is told from the point of view of one person in the town. Each chapter-sub-story lets us look into the lives of these people and as we read along we begin to see how the stories intertwine into the history of a place. You often hear about how in small towns everyone knows everyone else, well this is why that is.

Twisted Tree is a beautifully written book about the bonds between people and the places they come from. It starts
Nov 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really different book than its premise. Its not so much about the murder but about the lives of people that surround it. There is some very effective prose here. There were sentences that resonated with me so much that I wish I had marked them down so I could feel their strength again. I also liked the clever way in which the author introduced the reader to some of its characters and their flaws. The market checkout clerk idea was a great conduit for the reader. All is not gloom here. There is ...more
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
The lives of many of the people living in Twisted Tree, South Dakota are affected by a serial killer who murders one of their young women. The opening chapter features the killer and his prey in a chilling story. Then the reader learns about the rural town and its citizens. The final chapter is actually amusing. I almost failed to keep reading after the opening since grisly murders don't appeal to me, but I'm glad I read on and met these interesting characters so wonderfully depicted.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing in this book is so intricate and fabulous. It reminded me in many ways of Strout's Olive Kitteridge, because this is basically a book of short stories with links and common characters. But a warning -- the stories all touch upon a girl's death at the hands of a serial killer, so many of the stories are creepy and grim (and I happen to like creepy and grim!). (Just wait until you read about the rattlesnakes! EEEEK!).
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that I enjoyed even more after discussing it with others. Don't let the first chapter turn you off (like it almost did to me). Also, if you read it I would recommend taking notes on the characters. Almost every chapter is told from a different perspective so it would've made it easier to remember who is who and how everyone fits together if I had jotted down some notes. Luckily I had great book club members who could help me make those connections.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many personal stories, brilliantly woven together, all connected - sometimes closely, sometimes loosely - to one (horrible) central event. Unlike some reviewers, I found all the characters stories gripping, if often disturbing. It kept me reading in suspense all the way to the end to see if it would end with some kind of closure. Which it did, thankfully. ...more
This was the type of book that you really need a wall sized white board to keep track of how all the lives it portrays intertwine, but I loved that. It's like a puzzle, I read it once to put the edges together and then had to flip back through to fill in all the details in the center. I'll definitely plan to check another of Meyer's books out.
Nov 10, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Talk about here , and there, and everywhere.......I hate to NOT finish a book and that is the ONLY reason I finished it.
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dark, disturbing well written words flow out of this book. The author never gave us a break to breathe. Reading this book is like being trapped in a car that has been submerged in an icy lake.
Très belle écriture. Même en traduction, ça reste un plaisir que de lire cet auteur. La première nouvelle est fascinante. Comme certaines des suivantes, elle reste gravée dans notre esprit. Cependant, ce n'est pas le cas de toutes les nouvelles et le tout peut paraître un peu ennuyeux.
Jessica Murphy
Jul 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Characters were so tangentially related to the opening (main?) character, and none of their (many) stories were very interesting in themselves. The epilogue was the best part, but the book was beyond redemption. Listened to this one, not sure I would've finished had I'd read it.
Bonnie Brody
Twisted Tree is billed as a novel but it reads more like a collection of inter-connected short stories - - think Olive Kitteridge: Fiction.

The book opens with a harrowing and gruesome first chapter. A serial killer has been stalking his victims on the net, pretending to be a woman helping other women who want to lose weight. He is especially interested in anorexics who he calls 'Anas'. This first chapter recalls his meeting up with Hayley Jo Zimmerman, an 'Ana' who he has virtually and physicall
Erika Quiroz
Oct 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was so incredibly disappointed by this book. The general premise was so good I couldn't resist but the actual execution was kind of a flop in my book. There were so many better ways to follow through on this premise.

As someone who grew up in a small town, I don't think the author really understands how small towns actually work. There was no comprehension for how deeply lives intertwine in a small town, more than just a single thread or a passing comment, and that was the biggest disappointme
Lynn Pribus
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book to review. Beautiful writing with a variety of characters with distinctive voices and (I listened on iPod) different narrators which reinforced this.

And yet.... The beautiful writing was :literary" and almost too beautiful -- I'd stop and think, "Oh what beautiful writing" -- so it brings the reader to the writing rather than to the story. Almost as if the entire book was a final exam for an MFA, since each chapter could really stand alone as a short story.

And yet.... Ve
Oct 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I read Twisted Tree, I kept thinking of Jhumpa Lahiri's two stellar short story collections, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth. Twisted Tree, despite Meyer's haunting and beautiful writing, falls short of collections like Lahiri's because it tries to be a novel. The character we're encouraged to consider the center of the story, Hayley Jo Zimmerman, is not the center. She is introduced to us by her abductor in a crushing first chapter (the best of the book), but we only hear glim ...more
I tried read this a few other times this year with no success. It was in my bag when I was stuck over night at work over this wonderful MN Blizzard weekend. This is a weekend I would like to put behind me, so the book is being left behind also.

On the merits of the book. A good writer yet Blah. The first story about a serial killer was a bit like watching a car wreck where you cannot help but look even though the better part of you is saying "move on" (I saw enough car wrecks this weekend). It mi
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis = Hayley Jo Zimmerman is gone and people in the small town must come to terms with this event.
I was expecting to read about the girl who died; how her life impacted the people in her life and how her murder changed them. It never materialized.
This was a collection of short stories; an anthology of stories from a small town. I was disappointed. Some stories never even mentioned the girl, their story happening outside of this girl's existence. Even years before she was born.
I also foun
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