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Hell at the Breech
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Group Reads: Post-1980 > Initial Impressions, Hell at the Breech, March. 2014

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message 1: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Here's the location to begin our initial discussions about Tom Franklin's debut novel. No spoilers, please.

Note when making your selection of the novel, opt for the Trade Paperback copy in which Franklin wrote an additional short story concerning the incidents of the novel. He dedicated the additional work to Harper Lee. The additional material is well worth the read.

Mike


message 2: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 1926 comments Mod
Mike, isn't this a March read with this month being The Clearing and Keepers of the House?

No big deal, and perhaps this is just there for those who opt to start a month early.


message 3: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Wait, wait...you're telling me there was a range war in Alabama?

Yep. Tom Franklin based the incidents portrayed in Hell at the Breech on the Clarke County War arising in the Mitcham Beat, occurring in the early 1890s. It was bloody and brutal.

Interested in further background? See: Alabama Mitcham War, Encyclopedia of Alabama, http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/...

Start of the Mitcham War, History Engine Tools for Collaborative Education and Research, http://historyengine.richmond.edu/epi...

And there's plenty more material out there. Visiting present day Clarke Co., you'll find traces of the war. Remnants of cabins, foundations and fireplaces complete with chimneys. Once you know the story it's kind of an eerie place to visit.

Tom Franklin brings it all to life. I highly recommend this one. Of course, I highly recommend anything that Franklin writes.

Mike


message 4: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Laura wrote: "Mike, isn't this a March read with this month being The Clearing and Keepers of the House?

No big deal, and perhaps this is just there for those who opt to start a month early."


Yep. You're absolutely right. Chalk this up to too many miles driving in rain. And here I was trying to be so diligent. I got it covered, gonna fix it. Thanks for the catch, Laura!

Oh, EVERITT, where are you? Come in Car 54.

Mike


message 5: by Josh (new) - added it

Josh | 185 comments Haha......Mike, my OCD wife was in panic mode......she was actually reading this month's selection and was afraid she was going to miss out on the fun!!


message 6: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Josh wrote: "Haha......Mike, my OCD wife was in panic mode......she was actually reading this month's selection and was afraid she was going to miss out on the fun!!"

&chuckle* Well, I appreciate the catch! Of course, I'm very fond of Franklin. I might have tried to slip him in a month early. NAAAAAAAAW. Too many miles on the road. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. *grin*

Mike


Virginie | 18 comments I just finished The Clearing and planned to reread The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories, and already felt sorry for missing the discussions on Tom Franklin's book, which I just ordered !


message 8: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Virginie wrote: "I just finished The Clearing and planned to reread The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories, and already felt sorry for missing the discussions on Tom Franklin's book..."

No need to worry, Virginie, Hell at the Breech IS March's Post 1980 read. So you haven't missed it! My error is corrected. And, I'd like to say, when anyone catches an error by me, please let me know. It won't hurt my feelings. I want the group to run smoothly. I've been trying to get our monthly reads set sooner so readers can obtain copies of the book. I do need to be kept straight from time to time. Just ask my wife. *grin*

Mike


Virginie | 18 comments Mike wrote: "Virginie wrote: "I just finished The Clearing and planned to reread The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories, and already felt sorry for missing the discussions on To..."

Mike, I thought the misunderstanding was mine :)


message 10: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Virginie wrote: "Mike wrote: "Virginie wrote: "I just finished The Clearing and planned to reread The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories, and already felt sorry for missing the disc..."

Oh, no Virginie, this was a classic Mike Sullivan brain freeze moment. *grin* I've always prided myself on my memory. I'm reaching a point where I should CHECK the record. I really appreciate Laura for catching this. And, I expect folks to give a shout out when I may miss something. I'm sure this won't be the last time that Sullivan slips a cog. *grin*

Mike


sappho_reader There's many excellent upcoming selections...it's difficult to keep them straight myself.


message 12: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Mike wrote: "Here's the location to begin our initial discussions about Tom Franklin's debut novel. No spoilers, please.

Note when making your selection of the novel, opt for the Trade Paperback ..."


Michael, I've perused all the editions noted on goodreads and I think this is the TPB I was referencing. The ISBN is: 0060566760 (ISBN13: 9780060566760). Whether the extra story appears in the most recent TPB edition, I don't know. I've not had the opportunity to see it. Should you bop down to a local bookstore, see if the new edition contains the story. It will be at the end of the novel. If it doesn't contain it, go for the edition I mentioned. It's a good read.

Mike


message 13: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
MSJ wrote: "There's many excellent upcoming selections...it's difficult to keep them straight myself."

Thanks for your understanding and gentle kindness. *laughing* I own this screw up, but I'm appreciative of folks understanding the faux pas.

Mike


Larry Bassett | 0 comments This book comes with warnings about violence and it fulfills that promise right out of the chute. This first novel of Tom Franklin has been on my shelf for a while; I am glad to finally get to it and hope for some good discussion here.

Hopefully people will find this discussion. When you click on the (sic) "breach" on the group home page, you get to someplace else! Finding this discussion for the first time could be a challenge.


message 15: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (last edited Mar 05, 2014 03:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Larry wrote: "Hopefully people will find this discussion. When you click on the (sic) "breach" on the group home page, you get to someplace else! Finding this discussion for the first time could be a challenge. "

Thanks for the catch, Larry I believe the problem is ficksed (sic).

Mike


Larry Bassett | 0 comments Mike wrote: "Thanks for the catch, Larry I believe the problem is ficksed (sic)."

I suggest that the important requirements to be a Moderator on GR are a thick skin and a sense of humor. Sympathy for the rats in the maze ain't a bad qualification either! *wrinkling nose*


message 17: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Larry wrote: "Mike wrote: "Thanks for the catch, Larry I believe the problem is ficksed (sic)."

I suggest that the important requirements to be a Moderator on GR are a thick skin and a sense of humor. Sympathy ..."


Some days my skin is thicker than others. Today has been a tough day. Members need to remember that Mods do what they do for nothing. A little consideration, perhaps a private email voicing your concerns might be in order.

Mike


message 18: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
The earlier works of Tom Franklin are noted because of their dark violence. I've had readers who have met Franklin who have remarked his appearance belies the violence that appears in his works. Franklins' first anthology Poachers was actually darker and exhibited more violence than Hell at the Breech. However, nothing compares to the violence exhibited in Franklin's novel which followed this one, Smonk. Franklin actually toned down the violence in Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which this reader considered Franklin's breakthrough novel to reach a wider audience. Those who have read The Tilted World: A Novel co-authored by Franklin's wife, Beth Fennelly will definitely note a decreased level of violence.

Mike


message 19: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 3868 comments Mod
I just started this last night, and when the writing is this good, you know the violence isn't just gratuitous. A question for you Alabamians: The locale of Mitcham's Beat is a strange name, and it is just shortened to "the Beat" by the sherriff. What is a "beat", geographically speaking?


message 20: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I just started this last night, and when the writing is this good, you know the violence isn't just gratuitous. A question for you Alabamians: The locale of Mitcham's Beat is a strange name, and ..."

A "beat" is a political division set in a particular geographical area, normally on the county level. As used in Franklin's novel, "beat" is very similar to a political "ward" as used in other jurisdictions. The term has fallen into disuse. It is also sometimes used to describe an area specifically patrolled by law enforcement. I believe in Franklin's novel, the former definition applies.

Diane, I definitely agree with you the violence in this novel is not gratuitous.

Mike


message 21: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Brenda wrote: "Mike wrote: "Wait, wait...you're telling me there was a range war in Alabama?

Yep. Tom Franklin based the incidents portrayed in Hell at the Breech on the Clarke Cou..."


I'm just an amateur historian, Brenda. I initially intended on being a history teacher. However, as I worked my way through undergrad, snoring students pushed me in the direction of psychology. Then to law school. However, I've never lost my love for literature and history. :)

Mike


message 22: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
For those interested in further historical readings on the Clarke County Wars, see Alabama's Mitcham Wars: Essaying Mortal Wounds by Jerry Elijah Brown. Brown, a descendant of one of the participants, wrote his view of "The Mitcham Wars" in 2011. The book has been praised by Harper Lee, Roy Blount Jr., and acclaimed Alabama Historian, Leah Rawls Atkins.

Mike


sappho_reader I really enjoyed this book. After reading I did some of my own research via Google and discovered that a movie is under development titled "Mitcham Beat" for 2015.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1701216/?...

No details yet but another example of Southern Lit at the movies.


sappho_reader Diane wrote: "I just started this last night, and when the writing is this good, you know the violence isn't just gratuitous."

There was one scene in particular where I thought the violence was over the top. I won't mention details as this is a spoiler-free discussion but it felt more sensationalized than the remainder of the book.


message 25: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Barnes | 3868 comments Mod
I am loving this book more with every page I turn, but just let me say that in any future lives I might have, being the wife of a poor cotton farmer in Alabama is not an option if I have any say in the matter.


Larry Bassett | 0 comments As I am reading the story, I am wondering if Franklin will ultimately be describing an era or territory that is essentially without law or morality. Much is made of the importance of alibis, the role of illegal alcohol and a disregard of business and human ethics. This is all happening at the dawn of the 20th century in the United States. What kind of subhuman people are these?


message 27: by sappho_reader (last edited Mar 10, 2014 02:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

sappho_reader I wouldn't say they are subhuman per se, but Franklin described the Beat in terms of being self-policed since there was only one sheriff assigned to the entire county. Their behavior is simply a consequence of the inadequate police system.


Larry Bassett | 0 comments "Conspicuous immorality" is a phrase I like from this review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... but be careful if you are especially sensitive to spoilers. Though I am not sure that comments about violence can be considered spoilers for this particular book.


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