BOOK BIZ — Dark Mississippi tale of 1927 is one to savor

by Lynn Lofton

Published: October 11,2013

Tags: books, Business, literature, Mississippi

» The Tilted World By Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly Published by William Morrow $25.99 hardback

» The Tilted World
By Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly
Published by William Morrow
$25.99 hardback

We claim a lot of good writers in Mississippi — those who are born here and those who come here to work and write. The latter is the case with Franklin and Fennelly, a married couple who lives in Oxford and teaches at the University of Mississippi. With their good track records we’re proud to call them Mississippi writers. She is a published poet and he is the author of the acclaimed tale of a murder, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

Together this talented couple has penned The Tilted World, released Oct. 1 and already gathering buzz. I’m always intrigued by a novel that has a bit of history as backdrop. The Tilted World is set in 1927 when prohibition was in place and the Mississippi River famously left its banks. It’s a dark tale taking place in Hobnob Landing, a town of 3,000 people “nestled where the Mississippi doubled back on itself like a black racer fixing to bite its tail.” The town is about to go under water as the river is bursting its banks after months of rain and the levee is at the breaking point.

Then, as the old saying goes, the plot thickens with two prohibition agents on the trail of their mysteriously vanished predecessors and of the local moonshine still. Of course we know that prohibition was a much longer era in Mississippi than the rest of the country, but that doesn’t make this story any less compelling. These federal agents are described as “mysterious, ruthless, unbribable.”

Enter Dixie Clay, a lonely, unhappily married woman who’s mourning the loss of her baby son to scarlet fever. It may seem completely incongruous but she’s also a bootlegger who’s said to make the best moonshine for miles around. Undoubtedly her path crosses with that of prohibition agents Ingersoll and Ham. There’s a parallel as Clay spirals deeper into danger and the river lunges for the top of the levee where sandbaggers struggle to contain it.

Alison Flood, reviewer for The Observer, wrote The Tilted World is a thriller to savor, not to rush through. And so it is, bringing yet more acclaim to a state where “we do wear shoes and read books – some of us even write books.”

 

— Lynn Lofton, mbj@msbusiness.com

 

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