Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BLOODROOT by Amy Greene


I just wasn't really in the mood to read yet another book about poor white suffering Southerners, especially women who make unbelievably bad choices in husbands and can't be bothered to take care of their children. If I've counted correctly, in this book six different voices from three generations narrate their own stories, all of which revolve around Myra Lamb. The other narrators are her grandmother, her husband, her two children, Laura and Johnny, and a neighbor who is in love with her. The voices are probably authentic, with their bad grammar and mispronounced words. I grew up in Tennessee, too, and I've heard "wash" pronounced as "worsh," but I'm not accustomed to the bad grammar, and it grates on my nerves just to read it. I get that the characters are mostly uneducated mountain people, although Myra's son Johnny narrates in the voice of the aspiring writer that he is. I enjoyed his sections the most, although he admits to doing some pretty despicable things. He is not the worst offender, though. That distinction would fall to Myra's husband and his family, who are horribly cruel and slovenly. Second place in the meanness department goes to Laura's mother-in-law, who is obviously deranged, even more so than Myra, who is confined to a mental health hospital. The title refers to a plant with a poisonous sap that can also be used for medicinal purposes. I think it connotes for the author's purposes a family tree or inherited traits, which in this case mimic the plant with both healing and noxious properties.

1 comment:

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