Daniel Woodrell’s novels set in the Ozark Mountains in Missouri have won him critical acclaim, and the genre he writes in, coined by the author as ‘country noir’, has quite a following in the United States. He is not yet as well known here as his compatriot Cormac McCarthy, but he covers similar territory. His latest novel, Winter’s Bone, is a gritty but delicately rendered portrayal of a remote, inbred hill community, which is at once menacing and mysterious.
The Dollys, two hundred of them, all related and living within a thirty-mile radius of each other, have grubbed a living from the ancient Ozark Mountains for generations, the independent pioneer spirit of their ancestors horribly disfigured by the unforgiving terrain and centuries of poverty and ignorance. They exist outside