The Death of Sweet Mister

By Daniel Woodrell,

Book cover of The Death of Sweet Mister

Book description

Shug Akins is a lonely, overweight thirteen-year-old boy. His mother, Glenda, is the one person who loves him -- she calls him Sweet Mister and attempts to boost his confidence and give him hope for his future. Shuggie's purported father, Red, is a brutal man with a short fuse who…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Death of Sweet Mister as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The people in Sweet Mister are broken and derelict, strong and resilient, funny and terrifying. The book opens with overweight thirteen-year-old Shuggie (Sweet Mister) being forced to climb up a drain pipe to break into a building to steal drugs for Red, his mother’s treacherous, drug-addicted boyfriend. We follow through the eyes of Sweet Mister, who doesn’t know who his father is. It’s rumored to be the town’s wealthiest citizen. That rumor, more like fabrication, is told to him in the aftermath of Red’s rage, after he’s torn through the house like a tornado destroying everything in his wake, almost…

Woodrell bridges the gap between Faulkner’s Southern gothic and the noir crime stories of Raymond Chandler and James Cain. This book features all the Oedipal perversion and body horror that reminds us of Faulkner, but this story of a sensitive boy and his debauched mother is also hardboiled and gritty as hell. For such a short book, this novel drops you down a very dark and a very deep well. 

From Alden's list on in the tradition of William Faulkner.

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