I am often wary of Southern Gothic novels. I am a Southerner by birth, but often feel my southernness is buried deep in my psyche in a way that allows me to understand southern ways of thinking and doing, but I rarely think or do things that way myself. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin spoke eloquently to my inner Southerner and I enjoyed every minute of reading it.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter pretends to be a mystery story, but is really a story of friendship and belonging. Larry Ott and Silas Jones knew each other as kids and had a tenuous friendship that neither one of them could fully acknowledge. Larry, a loner with a strict and unloving father first meets Silas and his mother, when they are hitching a ride into town one cold morning. Larry’s Dad seems to know them both, but doesn’t reveal how or why, and Larry wonders what connection this black woman and her son could possibly have to his father. Larry attends a school where he is one of only a handful of white kids, and he learns quickly that even though Silas is a schoolmate, they can’t publicly be friends, mostly for reasons neither of them can comprehend.