I had my hopes up, hearing that McCrumb is a great southern writer. Not so much with this attempt. Badly edited, there are entire passages that are identical; so much so that at one point I thought I'd inadvertently skipped backwards. The story, large in scope, with complex characters, here is narrowed down to a single sociopathic viewpoint. The attempt to provide counterpoint with Zeb Vance's voice is not enough. Everyone in this book comes off petty, mean, hateful, and at the end, it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The final insult is the reader. She reads the book, but she does not act it. The anti-heroine, Pauline Foster is read in a soft, light sing-song. The inner rage and resentment that fuel her world view and her actions are nowhere to be found. She could only manage one Southern accent, so that when she had to be, say, the rich planter or the doctor, she was reduced to a northern accent to make them sound cultured and intelligent. A Southern book deserves more complexity than that. I might try this book again on the page as the reader just butchered it, but I don't hope for much.
There were several problems with this book, beginning with the production. About 10 times poor editing made its jarring presence known as the words jumped, skipped and settled back into the rhythm of the story. Ouch.
The reader, well, let's just say that she couldn't keep a-hold of her Southern. The protagonist kept losing her Southern accent. Not good. And for the love all that's foothills, it's Hick-ry, not Hick-o-ry. That took me out of the story several times.
As for the author, I appreciate -- maybe -- what she is trying to do, but the southern stereotypes. Help me. I'm from North Carolina (not that far from Hickory, actually) and she just slams them all full force. I know that in the end we are supposed to appreciate community, family, etc. But she sure has to drag us through the racism/sexism/small town/small mind thing, doesn't she? I fail to see why that was necessary.
All that said, the mystery itself was interesting and held my interest the entire time. I'm mildly curious as to whether the author matures over the rest of the series; but not really interested enough to listen again. Especially if the reader isn't going to pronounce Hickory right.
Salatin makes a persuasively argued case for local, non-industrial food production and consumption -- a vision we need to adopt pronto, as our current system is unsustainable. A particular treat is hearing Salatin read his own work -- filled with energy and good humor, as well as passion. Every time I listened, I was inspired and energized.
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