Daniel Woodrell coined the term “country noir,” and with Winter’s Bone he created a landmark work of country noir. Ree Dolly is the epitome of the tough-as-nails female protagonist that has become so recognizable to the genre.
I was lauding Justified just yesterday (the entire series is now available in a blu-ray set, by the way), but Ozark is gearing up to give it a run for its money as the preeminent country noir television show. Netflix’s yarn about a Cartel money launderer who sets up shop on the Lake of the Ozarks had a damn fine first season. Season two ups the game.
There isn’t a lot of country noir on TV. Justified may not quite be country noir, but it is more than close enough for a show that good. I haven’t seen it, but Hap & Leonard probably qualifies (the first book certainly does). But Netflix has recently expanded our country noir options with its new show Ozark.
Ozark is a show about a money launderer who gets in way too deep, a show about trying to muscle into new territory, and, er, a show about family. It is very dark, and very good.
The Daniel Woodrell short stories collected in The Outlaw Album have two things in common—they’re set in the Ozark Plateau and they are about violence. It’s the stuff of Ron Rash and Cormac McCarthy, Chris Knight and James McMurtry, Jesco White and Popcorn Sutton.
The stories of The Outlaw Album are short, ranging from as low as 6 pages to as long as 28 pages. The stories generally get longer—and more difficult—as you go. There are also uncommonly strong across the board, only The Horse in Our History leaving me unmoved.