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Michael Ransom Book Review: Mississippi Noir (Edited by Tom Franklin)

Mississippi NoirMississippi Noir by Tom Franklin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Aptly named, Mississippi Noir certainly plumbs the depths of modern-day noir with strange and sorrowful tales told from all perspectives, creeds, colors and cares. The milleiu of the state is clearly conducive to noir- as has often been observed
Mississippi is a state which is perpetually at the bottom of most United States "lists"(or at the top, whenever the category is depressingly undesirable). Each story, therefore, is set within the rural backdrop of Mississippi, and the characters are all bound to Mississippi as though trapped within a tractor beam that could never permit them to exist anywhere but Mississippi. Their difficulties, strifes, desperation and horrors all seem to be borne out of a small set of universally common "Mississippian" plights that have been updated to reflect modern-noir in the new millennium. The book's stories don't just capture the dark side of living in the state, but they somehow manage to faithfully reflect the subtle differences of life in various regions of the state as well (differences in tone and darkness, depending on whether the locale is set in the Faulkner-haunted fields and woods of northern Mississippi, along the socio-economic contrasts on display along the casino-glutted coast, or in the relatively uniformly poverty-stricken Delta). The short stories are defined in the book by their settings/locations, and rightfully so, as both the editor and the authors have done terrific jobs capturing the different aspects of life in these slightly distinct regions that together form what we call the state of Mississippi, but which certainly stand separately as their own places and cultures and peoples. Because of its graphic content and language, Mississippi Noir is not for all... but is highly recommended for those who love the darker side of literature set in the deep South.



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