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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  37,224 ratings  ·  4,683 reviews
Tom Franklin's narrative power and flair for characterization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.

Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far; an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood

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Hardcover, 274 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by William Morrow (first published October 5th 2009)
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Sean Franklin is a poet with prose. He cannot write bad language. I've read every word of his I could find and I have yet to find anything written badly or…moreFranklin is a poet with prose. He cannot write bad language. I've read every word of his I could find and I have yet to find anything written badly or even goodly, he is just perfect.(less)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  37,224 ratings  ·  4,683 reviews


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karen
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
it is totally okay to float old reviews when you suddenly have a picture of yourself and the author to attach to them. also, when you are bored. but only once a day. anything more than that becomes boring. or desperate.



one of the best books i have read, ever.

and exactly what i was looking for when i posted my query in my very own readers' advisory group. so, thank you, james, this is a perfect suggestion to the kind of book i was looking for. and i am going to immerse myself in tom franklin's
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PirateSteve
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern
What does it say about a person when their mother feels the need for prayer they find a friend?
Scary Larry Ott won't blame you if you don't like him.
He knows what people say about him...
But the first ladies need support and Larry may as well be the one.

Another 5 star book from Tom Franklin.
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern
M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I.--How southern children are taught to spell Mississippi

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Tom Franklin

My wife's family is from Prentiss, Mississippi not far from where the action of this book takes place. When my wife's grandmother died a few years ago we went down for the funeral. This was my first time in Mississippi and I remember a couple of things about the experience. First, this is small town USA and there were two funeral
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Stephen
Gorgeous...

Gorgeous and dripping with emotion and ache...

This story OWNED ME from the opening page and LARRY OTT is among the most endearing, heart-wrenching characters I've come across in a long, long time. That I connected so well with both the story and its main character surprised me because, being born and raised in Vegas, my own life experience is so vastly different from both Larry and the town of Chabot, Mississippi, where the story takes place. I give heaping mounds of credit to author
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Rebbie
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2017
Poor Larry Ott. He's a beautiful soul whose wings have been clipped; he's damaged and hurting after a lifetime of being ridiculed, being thrown to the wolves, being falsely accused of a horrific crime.

And yet he doesn't lose his sweetness or optimism, even after his only childhood friend, Silas, ditches him out of fear of losing his own newfound popularity. Silas has to accept how poorly he used to treat Larry while they were growing up, and it's not easy to do. The author did a magnificent job
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Arah-Lynda
So often when I read a book I cannot wait to talk about it, eager to hear other people's takes and share my own thoughts, but sometimes, as in life, the unexpected occurs. A book has been read all right and it affected me but still I need to let it rest a while, need to think on it, recover from it.

I found myself looking back, being brutally honest in my reflection. Have I ever succumbed to group think and if so how often have I hurt others? And even though in truth I have never really fit in
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Nataliya
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nataliya by: Countless positive GR reviews
Oh, small-town, rural America, why must you scare me so? Why must this book, written about you, kill something inside me with every page? Why does it, and you by proxy, need to crush me with loneliness and sadness and desperation?



This is a profoundly sad book about sadness in life, which is sad. And I'm not even being a brat here when I say that. There's nothing about this story that's even remotely optimistic, even the quasi-hopeful ending is very sad, if you think about it.

And why wouldn't
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Candi
"The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house."

This book grabbed me from the beginning and never let go. I was mesmerized by the rural Mississippi setting and quickly connected to the main characters. Larry Ott, otherwise known as Scary Larry by an unforgiving and judgmental community, and Silas Jones, the former high school baseball star, have a history. A history that goes back more than twenty years to that difficult
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Will Byrnes
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Worst first date ever. Poor Larry Ott, the bookish kid, the weak one, a smallish white boy, the bully-target at school, takes out the girl of his dreams, returns home alone, and gets blamed for her presumed rape and murder. Decades later, ostracized by the town, living alone in the same house he grew up in, tending his late, abusive father’s garage, another girl goes missing and all fingers point his way. Did he or didn’t he?

But Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells of two twisted lives. As a
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Kemper
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The geeks may have seized a nice chunk of pop culture these days, but it’s too easy to forget that it wasn’t that long ago when reading and collecting comic books made you a bit odd. Long before remaking ’70s slasher films with as much blood as possible was considered mainstream entertainment, liking Stephen King novels or other horror books and movies might get your folks a closed door session with your teacher. Before Lord of the Rings made a gazillion dollars and won Oscars, you probably ...more
Nancy
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nancy by: Kemper
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

It was Kemper's review that made me add this book to my shelf. It was Stephen's that made me rush to the library after work and grab a copy.

After reading Shine and Winter's Bone, I was hesitant about reading another depressing story set in the south, but I’m so glad I did.

Larry Ott had a tough childhood growing up in rural Mississippi. He was sickly and he had a stutter. He never quite fit in among his classmates, usually the butt of a joke or the target of a bully.
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Lawyer
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: If Franklin writes it, I read it
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: Thoughts following a second reading

"The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house."

Read that first sentence. What? It doesn't grab you? Keep reading. It's like that long slow climb up to the peak of that first drop on the roller coaster. Hear the click of the chain pulling you to the top? After you hit the top, you're in for a ride.

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First came this mean little collection of a novella and
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Jason
Nov 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I want to be clear on the 3-star rating, folks. I liked this book. I swear. I just don’t believe it lived up to the potential I arbitrarily ascribed to it when I saw on the shelf of my local Stop & Shop’s aisle 7.

Guys, I can’t review books anymore. I don’t know if “reviewer burnout” is a real thing or if I’m just miserable because it’s only the second week of July and I am going to die from this heat, or if I’m rip roaring drunk (which I somewhat am), but I came home from visiting some
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Paula Kalin
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is the first Tom Franklin book I have read and he is certainly a fine writer. Set in rural Mississippi in the late 1970's, this is a story of a friendship between loner, Larry Ott, and former high school sports star and local constable, Silas Jones or "32".

Back in high school, Larry, on his first date, takes a hot local girl to the drive-in and she never returns home. Although not charged with murder, Larry is ostracized by his community for the rest of his life.
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Jeffrey Keeten
It’s got a lot of heart, dark and dramatic with ambience in spades, does a great job depicting rural Mississippi. "A few paved roads and a lot of dirt ones, a land of sewer ditches and gullies stripped of their timber and houses and single-wides speckled back in the clear-cut like moles revealed by a haircut."
The point of view alternates between Silas Jones & Larry Ott, flashing back to their boyhood friendship - a friendship that ends when Larry is suspected of murder. Now Silas is back in
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Phrynne
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5000-books
This was an interesting read, more for its social commentary than its mystery which was actually only there because it explained what had happened to poor Larry Ott. I spent a lot of time at the beginning mentally adjusting to the fact that Larry was white and Silas black. All my instincts from reading books about the deep south wanted them to be the other way round.

There are a lot of very unpleasant people in this book and I was never quite sure whether I actually liked Silas at all. All of
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Diane S ☔
Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
The descriptive and narrative power in this book is what hooked me. Rural Mississippi, two boys, one black, one white will become entangled in each others lives for years to come. The amazing thing to me is I kept thinking that Silas, who is black grows up respected, very unusual in the south during this time, while Larry, who is white is treated as the towns albatross. Due to a missing girl years back and a missing girl in the present. Very strange mixture of characterizations and yet Franklin ...more
Melki
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hillbilly-noir
My son came home from school last week with his outrageously overpriced yearbook. A lot of people had a lot of nice things to say about him, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. One kid wrote something that struck me as particularly nice:

In a few years I see you with a house, wife, and babies.
They will be stupendous, and we'll still be friends.


What I liked, besides the kid's use of the word "stupendous," was the "still be friends" part.
Will they still be friends? Who knows? Like much
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Kelli
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An atmospheric, character-driven masterpiece that puts the reader squarely in the middle of this ambling story. Beautifully descriptive and deeply sad, this story unfolds slowly like a long, deep sigh of regret. It’s the kind of story that stays with the reader long after the reading is done.
Annet
Read this book in 2012, remember it's a great, have to re-read soon!
Trudi
Guh! This book ... (flails helplessly) ... it is a gut puncher, heart-wrencher. Franklin is a poet, his prose sings, his characters walk off the page, and he puts the reader into a time and place that absolutely resonates with a vibrancy and brutal honesty all its own.

I was so sad -- so emotionally invested -- that I found the reading painful to bear at times. Franklin's descriptions of human isolation and loneliness are so raw and uncompromising I forced myself to take breathers between
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☮Karen
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
M, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, humpback, humpback, i. That spells Mississippi if you're from the South, so they say. Not sure if I ever heard the humpback version before. The Mississippians in this book are probably not much like most folks you know, with highly dysfunctional families, a mean or absent father in every one, kids that are oppressed and depressed. Then we have snakes in mailboxes, preteens playing with guns, in a town where blacks are ...more
James Thane
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very well done atmospheric novel set in rural Mississippi. The story is told in scenes that alternate between the 1970s and the present day. At the heart of the story are two men, one white, the other black, who for a brief period of time as boys were secretly close friends in a time and place where their friendship, if public, would have only brought them trouble.

The white man is Larry Ott, the only child of a lower class family. His father was a mechanic who seemed to have little
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Margitte
Two boyhood friends, now 'non-friends' in adulthood, are forced to face their individual bags of bones in their closets, when a serious crime strikes their small town in Mississippi. Thrown together, the skeletons screamed their stories to a world who refused to acknowledge their truth. Instead, the people around them preferred to believe their own versions and acted upon it all these years.

For Silas Jones, or '32', as he was known as a high school baseball hero, it could have been different if
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Bill
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I didn't sleep well last night.

It was one of the very rare occurrences where I finish a book in bed without another one to pick up right away. You see, I hate being between books. When I finish one, I immediately choose another and begin it right away. But last night was an anomaly. Just the way things worked out.

So. Turning out the light immediately after finishing this left me
thinking about the whole thing for much of the night. I kept going over what it was that Franklin did that made me care
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Madeline
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Something I learned about myself while reading this book: I am incapable of reading books that include a murder mystery but don't focus on the mystery aspect.

Look guys, I love detective novels. I love seeing how an author puts together a crime, presents the circumstances, and shows us the investigation process while disguising the real solution until the moment they're ready to give us the answer. It's fun to read about mysteries, so when I get a book that features a mystery but tries to
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Cheryl
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Crooked Letter, the crooked lives we live. Those crooked thoughts that alter trajectories, oh if only someone—a friend, a parent, a community, a town—could reach out and position a person's marred ways of thinking. Oftentimes, it doesn't happen this way, not if one lives in a crooked town.

Imagine a life in ruins, simply because a person has been misunderstood. Imagine having a friend you could never publicly claim, a girlfriend you would always keep hidden, because of a small town's
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Larry Ott's character in this book just broke my heart. I mean took it out and threw it on the ground and stomped it kind of broken. His character was a little bookworm who just didn't fit in with the other kids. When he dared to think he had a date with a cute girl and took her out she never returned. So his whole life has been "Scary Larry".

Silas is his one time black friend who is now constable in the town they life in. One time friends. But this story is of their friendship and the way we
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Greg
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm fairly certain that my reaction to books is dependent on things going on outside of the text itself. Certain books read at certain times of my life affected me in ways that I can't imagine they would affect me now. Other times the shit that is going on in my life makes me unable to give a book that I might otherwise really enjoy the kind of attention, or mood, or something that it really deserves.

Is this one of those books?

Maybe.

I see gushing reviews for this. And I went into expecting to
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Natalie Richards
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-book
I loved this book. I`ve never read Tom Franklin before but I will now be looking out for his other reads. ...more
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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 ...more
“Maybe Larry was wrong about the word friend, maybe he'd been shoved away from everybody for so long all he was was a sponge for the wrongs other people did.” 13 likes
“Was that what childhood was? Things rushing by out a window, the trees connected by motion, going too fast for him to notice the consequences?” 13 likes
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