In this novel, "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" we have an exploration of the issue of race in Mississippi that certainly brings to mind the tangled family patterns, with absolute separation of the races combined with miscegenation, leading inevitably to catastrophe, that one finds in Faulkner's "Absalom, Absalom" or "Go Down, Moses."
Smonk reminds one of Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, in which there seems to be a homicide on every page. The strongest element of Tom Franklin's new novel, Smonk, is character. You have absolutely never seen people like this before.
...where armed men, living on what was still a kind of a frontier and still chafing from the humiliation of their defeat in the Civil War, set out to assassinate, hang, bushwhack, burn, and torture one another and any women, children, or black families who happen to be in the line of fire.