Saturday, December 07, 2019

Ten dark stories of children in peril

Zach Vasquez is a native of Los Angeles, California. He writes fiction and criticism.

At CrimeReads he tagged ten top novels and films "that put children up against the outsized terrors of the adult world," including:
The Death of Sweet Mister, by Daniel Woodrell (2001)

Next to Winter’s Bone (which could just as easily have taken this spot), The Death of Sweet Mister is Daniel Woodrell’s—the hardboiled laureate of the Ozarks—finest novel to-date. The story focuses on 13-year-old Shug Atkins, a lonely, overweight, and embittered youth living with his gorgeous, alcoholic mother Glenda and his maybe-father, the abusive and unhinged Red, who moves in and out of their lives at random, seemingly just to torment them. When Glenda starts an affair with a cool city slicker, it sets off a chain of events that lead to murder, torture and something far, far worse.

The Death of Sweet Mister is bildungsroman filtered through pitch-black noir and Greek tragedy. Of all the stories presented here, it is ultimately the most devastating in its depiction of the corruption of youth and death of childhood innocence.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue