'The Marauders' Review
I have a love of Southern fiction. That might partly have to do with the fact that I grew up in Florida. It's also due to the fact that I love that stories set in the South are often slow, but fierce, that older way of life intersecting with the gritty nature of human beings. Regardless of the reason, Southern stories grab hold of me, and The Marauders was no exception.
Tom Cooper, also a Florida native, wrote one hell of a story with his debut novel, The Marauders. Set in Jeanette, a working-class Louisiana bayou town, the novel connects the stories of some of the town's inhabitants (a shrimper's son; a pill-addicted, one-armed treasure hunter; some frightening, weed-growing twins; a BP employee; and a couple of amateur thieves) and their struggle to thrive in a dying town. Their stories intertwine to form a hilarious, terrifying, strange, and, for some, deadly tale of life in the forgotten South.
Gus Lindquist, the treasure hunter, searches for the mythical treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte. Wes Trench, the teenage son of a hardened shrimper and a mother who died in Katrina, works to become a successful shrimper in his own right, which is not easy to do in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. The slimy BP emissary, Brady Grimes, returns to his hometown after the oil spill, working to make the residents of Jeanette, including his own mother, sign deals for a fraction of the money they might win in lawsuits further down the line. The psychopathic Toup twins, Reginald and Victor, are horrifying men who will stop at nothing to protect, and make a healthy profit from, their massive cop of weed. And to round off this troupe of oddballs and misfits are Cosgrove and Hanson, a couple of hapless criminals looking to make a quick buck wherever they can.
These characters all interact with each other, some more than others, in a story that is hilarious, heartbreaking, terrifying, and sometimes downright weird, often all in the same paragraph. The Marauders has the magical feel of a place lost in time, both modern and old, isolated but full of community.
Cooper weaves a compelling and intriguing tale that you won't be able to put down even if you wanted to, and if you didn't already know it, you'd be hard-pressed to tell it's a debut novel. The Marauders is one of those novels that will be remembered long after its time, and it will give Cooper a seat at the table of Southern literature along with the likes of Mark Twain, Elmore Leonard, and Charles Portis.
Basically what I'm saying is: READ THIS BOOK.
* I received this book from Blogging for Books for review purposes.