"Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir," by Daniel Woodrell...


March 17, 1996|By John Brumfield | John Brumfield,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

"Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir," by Daniel Woodrell. Henry Holt. 237 pages. $22.50 This short novel follows Doyle Redmond, who walks out on his unfaithful wife in California, steals her Volvo and drives to what used to be the family's Ozark mountain homestead.

Doyle is no ordinary hayseed. He's home at his parents' urging to cajole his brother, Smoke, into surrendering on a two-year-old arrest warrant. Instead, Smoke and Big Annie, Smoke's girlfriend, enlist Doyle in a marijuana harvesting and wholesaling deal that proves too tempting to resist. Doyle has interests and accomplishments in the larger world, but they are always somehow touched, if not tainted, by his inability to escape the gravitational pull of his family.

The author's wonderfully believable way of shifting Doyle's voice from ill-fated hillbilly to I-can't-believe-I'm-doing-this observer makes this tragicomic blend of James M. Cain and Erskine Caldwell such a kick. Fine writing is his hook.

Pub Date: 3/17/96

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