Maid's Version (Woodrell)

The Maid's Version 
Daniel Woodrell, 2013
Little, Bown & Co.
164 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780316205887

The tale of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations.

Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen and his family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident?

Alma thinks she knows the answer-and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair. Her dogged pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long-standing rift with her own son. By telling her story to her grandson, she finally gains some solace-and peace for her sister. He is advised to "Tell it. Go on and tell it"—tell the story of his family's struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs. (From the publisher.)


Author Bio
Birth— March 4, 1953
Where—Springfield, Missouri, USA
Education—B.A., University of Kansas; M.F.A.,
   Iowa Writers' Workshop
Awards—PEN USA Award for Fiction
Currently—lives in West Plains, Missouri

Daniel Woodrell is an American writer of nine novels and one short story collection. He was was born in Springfield, Missouri, in the southwestern corner of the state. Althought he dropped out of high school to join the Marines, he later he earned a BA from the University of Kansas and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Most of his novels are set in the Missouri Ozark Mountains, a landscape which he knew from childhood. He has created novels based on crime, a style he termed "country noir," a phrase which has been adopted by commentators on his work. His 1999 Tomato Run won the PEN USA Award for Fiction.

In addition to finding readers for his fiction, Woodrell has had two novels adapted for films. Woodrell's second novel, Woe to Live On (1987), was adapted for the 1999 film Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee.

Winter's Bone (2006) was adapted by writer and director Debra Granik for a film of the same title, released commercially in 2010 after winning two awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including the Grand Jury Prize for a dramatic film. Several critics called it one of the best films of the year and an American classic, and it received four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

Woodrell lives in West Plains, Missouri—in the Ozarks—and is married to the novelist Katie Estill. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/16/1013.)

Book Reviews
Evocative...lyrical...resonant. [Y]oung Alek is sent to West Table, Missouri., to spend the summer of 1965 with his grandmother, Alma Dunahew, a hardworking maid to a wealthy local. The bad blood between Alek’s father and Alma stems from her opinion of what transpired just before the 1929 Arbor Dance Hall explosion.... Who was responsible?... From an economy of poetic prose springs forth an emotionally volcanic story of family, justice, and the everlasting power of the truth.
Publishers Weekly

[T]he story of a catastrophe based on a real-life occurrence. Alek Dunahew is sent to live with his grandmother...[who is] haunted by the death of her sister, Ruby, in the explosion of the Arbor Dance Hall in 1928.... Alek is curious and listens carefully.... [T]he story is gripping and heartrending at the same time.... Woodrell confirms his place among the literary masters. —Elizabeth Dickie

Loosely based on the real-life West Plains Dance Hall Explosion of 1928, [the novel] centers on Alma DeGeer Dunahew, a maid with three children in fictional West Table, Mo. After years of bitter silence, Alma has chosen to unburden her story on her grandson, Alek....This may be a minor work for this major American writer, but no craftsman toiling away in a workshop ever fashioned his wares so carefully. A commanding fable about trespass and reconstruction from a titan of Southern fiction.
Kirkus Reviews

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