The story rollicks from 1964 to 1971, careening downhill. There is a fantastic climax, a satisfying resolution. And Country Dark is audacious without seeming so at all. Routinely shifting points of view, Offutt accesses feelings and tones within tense and complicated moments with playful alacrity ... dark, but deeply humane. The love in this book is deep and powerful. And winsome twinkles shine through the blackness throughout, thanks in no small part to Offutt’s keen ear and eye ... This is the Chris Offutt book I’ve been waiting for — an achievement of spellbinding momentum and steadfast heart.
You expect descriptions like this to be accompanied by eerie banjo plucking from Deliverance. But Mr. Offutt impressively inhabits this impoverished, fiercely private world without condescension or romance, fashioning a lean, atmospheric story that moves fluidly between the extremes of violence and love ... The rumblings of Southern Gothic horror are audible in the distance of Country Dark, but Mr. Offutt is such a measured and unexcitable stylist that the story never wallows in the grotesque.
Tucker is a true existential hero, facing his circumscribed world directly and acting with unflinching determination. His story, like the work of Daniel Woodrell, is both heartrendingly painful and unsentimentally uplifting.