Give Us a Kiss: A Country Noir

Daniel Woodrell, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2298-8
Again, Woodrell mines his native Ozarks for artistic and comic inspiration, but this time the lode that produced the dazzling The Ones You Do (1992) turns up as much paste as as it does precious stones. The lure of marijuana as a cash crop provides the premise for the author's fifth novel, a lighthearted tale about a pair of literary brothers who wind up settling an old family score when a drug deal goes awry. As the story opens, narrator Doyle Redmond, a crime novelist, is returning to the Ozarks from California in a Volvo he stole from his wife after she slept with a prominent poet. Back home, Doyle hunkers down with his brother, Smoke, a fellow author whose attention has turned to cultivating a large marijuana crop for a big profit. While helping Smoke harvest the illegal bounty, Doyle engages in an impromptu romance with the daughter of Smoke's girlfriend, a teenage beauty named Niagra Mattux, who has a yen for the silver screen. This brief idyll gives way to violent reality when the dope deal finally goes down and the Redmond brothers are ambushed by a family of local degenerates called the Dollys. Woodrell's extraordinarily deft prose makes for a luscious read, and his unique combination of existential redneck humor and sharp literary barbs proves entertaining. But there's little substance behind the nonstop jokes, a problem that grows more aggravating as the plot winds down into a series of stock action scenes followed by a predictable resolution. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
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