Book Review: Nightwoods by Charles Frazier | More2Read
 

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier


 

A Letter from Author Charles Frazier

Lost in the woods. A dangerous phrase, but also with a resonance of folktale. Hansel and Gretel with their bread crumbs. Jack alone, roaming the lovely, dark, and deep southern mountains. So, young people and old people being lost in the woods has always been interesting to me for those reasons. And also because it happens all the time still.

Back when I was a kid, eight or ten, my friends and I lived with a mountain in our backyards. We stayed off it in summer. Too hot and snaky. But in the cool seasons, we roamed freely. We carried bb guns in the fall and rode our sleds down old logging roads in winter. We often got lost. But we knew that downhill was the way out, the way home. When I grew up and went into bigger mountains, you couldn’t always be so sure. I remember being lost in Bolivia. Or let’s say that I grew increasingly uncertain whether I was still on the trail or not. That’s the point where you ought to sit down and drink some water and consult your maps and compass very carefully and calmly. I kept walking. At some point, it became a matter of rigging ropes to swing a heavy pack over a scary white watercourse. I ended up at a dropoff. Down far below, upper reaches of the Amazon basin stretched hazy green into the distance. Downhill did not at all seem like the way home.

You’ll just have to trust me that this has something to do with my new novel, but to go into it much would risk spoilers. I’ll just say that early on in the writing of Nightwoods, Luce and the children were meant to be fairly minor characters, but I kept finding myself coming back to them, wanting to know more about them until they became the heart of the story. Some of my wanting to focus on them was surely influenced by several cases of kids lost in the woods in areas where I’m typically jogging and mountain biking alone at least a hundred days a year. It’s part of my writing process, though I hardly ever think about work while I’m in the woods. But I do keep obsessive count of how many miles a day I go and how many words I write, lots of numbers on 3×5 notecards. All those days watching the micro changes of seasons can’t help but become part of the texture of what I write, and those lost kids, too.

Praise:

“Incantatory prose . . . unexpected twists of plot . . . a look at the nature of good and evil and how those forces ebb and flow over time.”The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
Nightwoods propels forward at a suspenseful clip. . . . It is Frazier’s verisimilitude of North Carolina backwoods and how this particular place shapes his characters and their footing in his imagined world that bring this story alive.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Wonderful . . . There’s a dreamy spell set in motion by Frazier’s devotion to his native Appalachians. To read this book is to disappear deep into a meticulously created landscape.”The Christian Science Monitor
 
“A gorgeously written thriller, as brutal and unflinching yet tender and merciful as nature itself.”Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“A gritty new beauty of a novel . . . Its hero is a woman named Luce, and no woman could write a female character who rings any truer.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
 

Review:

The Nightwoods, from the title you could misinterpret this to being a paranormal or horror story, it’s about a Human struggle. This author of Cold Mountain knows all about settings in stories, he himself grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. He places you in a beautiful wilderness in this tale with some modest characters that are happy to struggle along and get to make big changes in their lives.
The authors sentences are laden with some intricate writing and describes away  beautiful environments and some very grim goings on.
Luce finds herself in recipient of Two orphaned twins from her rather once problematic deceased sister. These kids need help from their auntie, they need love, they have seen and received their fair share of violence. Luce finds she needs to help and this is the gem of the story the outcome of these souls fated together and the danger that arises as a dark shady past comes along and tries to interfere with their progress. Luce gets to find love in the progression of this new found family bonding together, a man of wealth he is of which she could be in need of.
This is not a long novel and just the right length, a story of Love, loss, will and courage.

“That night in bed, WLAC playing low and not helping much, Luce couldn’t sleep for thinking about the black hole. She didn’t spend a second wandering what creatures lived down there. One look and she knew nothing lived there. Life would only be in the way. The black hole was before life and beyond life. If you dipped a ladle of that water and drank it, visions would come so dark you wouldn’t want to live in the world that contained them. You’d be ready to flee toward the other darkness summed up in death, which is only distant kin to the black hole and the liquid it cups. A darkness left over from before Creation. A reminder of a time before light. Before these woods and these mountains and earth and even the sun, there was a black hole filled with black water. The black held no reference to the green world around it. And what did the green world mean if the black was and forever had been?”


Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 08 October 2011

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