Tuesday, 17 June 2014


I have had a few of Jones' books on the pile for a while, but never get around to reading them, which is something that defies logic. But then so does my whole approach to acquiring reading material.

From his website........Matthew F. Jones is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Cooter Farm, The Elements of Hitting, A Single Shot, Blind Pursuit, Deepwater, and Boot Tracks, as well as a number of screenplays, including adaptations of Boot Tracks and A Single Shot, both currently in production. His novel, Deepwater, was made into a film in 2005. He was born in Boston and grew up in rural upstate New York. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife, Karen and son, Reuben.

A Single Shot - the book has been praised by Daniel Woodrell and A Single Shot - the film has come out in the past year and stars Sam Rockwell. It doesn't have especially high ratings on the IMDB website, but it's something I'd still like to see, especially with the comparison to Winter's Bone; which is itself an adaptation of a Woodrell book.

I did enjoy Rockwell's performances in Matchstick Men - one of my favourite films and books, Moon and last year's The Way Way Back.

Matthew F. Jones

The Cooter Farm

Jones’s blackly humorous first novel, set on the Cooter family’s failing dairy farm in New York State, is firmly grounded in the gothic tradition. Wryly narrated by 10-year-old Ollie Cooter, it blends frequent hilarity, startling violence and a gripping plot. Ollie’s uncles, coarse rednecks nicknamed Hooter and Looter, are keeping their senile father’s farm afloat while Ollie’s hypochondriac dad Scooter is a traveling peddler of top-notch bull semen. Their jaded 13-year-old sister Mary Jean, Ollie’s aunt, is his constant companion; with her, Ollie confusedly notices the symptoms of sexual awakening. Fear and evil soon engulf the Cooter farm: Scooter’s imagined maladies and refusal to defend himself against Hooter’s relentless jibes alienate his wife; Hooter is incestuous, adulterous and homicidal; Mary Jean discovers “The Power,” a malevolent force that inhabits an abandoned house, and enlists Ollie’s help in releasing it with instructions to kill Hooter. Mary Jean and Ollie’s helplessness, Hooter’s lack of remorse and the suffering wrought by The Power–perhaps ghost, perhaps defense mechanism–arouse childhood angst and terror in this alternately amusing and tragic coming-of-age tale.

“The Cooter Farm will remind readers of John Irving one minute, Joyce Carol Oates the next. An altogether remarkable debut.”
— Gene Lyons, Entertainment Weekly

“Dickens and Irving are high standards against which to measure any novel, let alone a debut. It’s a tribute to The Cooter Farm that those are exactly the comparisons it invokes.”
— Steven Kane, Los Angeles Daily News

“‘The Cooter Farm‘ is a novel that defies categorization. It brings together elements as diverse as the black humor of Flannery O’Connor, the rude hilarity of Kurt Vonnegut, and the nostalgia for childhood of Harper Lee. A truly amazing first novel.”
— Sharon Lloyd Stratton, Richmond Times Dispatch

Boot Tracks

Boot Tracks is a commanding tale of a man and a woman struggling against a destiny they cannot control, told in Matthew F. Jones’ characteristically taut, economic style. An assassination gone terribly wrong; a couple searching for one last chance to find a safe place in a hostile world. With these elements Matthew F. Jones weaves a harrowing tale of suspense, violence and compassion.

Charlie Rankin has recently been released from prison, but prison has not released its grip on him. He owes his life to “The Buddha,” who has given him a job to do on the outside: he must kill a man, a man who has done him no harm, a man he has never met. Along the road to this brutal encounter, Rankin meets Florence, who may be an angel in disguise or simply a lonely ex porn star seeking salvation. Together they careen towards their fate, taking the reader along for the ride.

“More than just a very good crime thriller, this dark but illuminating novel shows us the psychopathology of the criminal mind. Brilliantly chilling in its step-by-step examination of the mechanics of committing a criminal act – the novel’s true terror is an interior one: an extreme close-up vision of the drive toward homicide. A nightmare thriller with the power to haunt.
— Kirkus Reviews *Starred Review

“Boot Tracks” is a strange but artful novel enlivened by some of the best low-life dialogue this side of Elmore Leonard….and Jones, who has written other well-regarded novels, is a writer worth meeting.”
— The Washington Post

“The ex-con just out of prison with one last job to do is a familiar noir premise, and Jones does it proud in this powerful tale. The sense of horrible inevitability is almost overpowering here, but Jones has us following Rankin’s Boot Tracks anyway. If only Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le Flambeur) were still alive to make the movie version.”
— Booklist

“For those who like their noir fiction dark, gritty and intense, the stunning crime novel, Boot Tracks by Matthew F. Jones is a gripping page turner. The terse prose of this remarkably visual novel is permeated with sensory immediacy. One can almost smell the stale sweat and the cheap musty perfume rising from the unwashed bodies of the author’s unpleasant, alienated and often-grotesque characters. This is a tight, tense read, and one you won’t soon forget.”
— Mostly Fiction Book Reviews


  1. As ever, I'll wait for your own review before deciding for myself...

    1. Moira, in that case, I don't think you'll have a quick decision to make!

  2. Col - These do sound very dark, despite the humour. Not sure the first is for me although the setting sounds atmospheric. I'll be interested in your take on them.

    1. Margot, no problem. I'm a fan of John Irving's work so I'm hoping the comparisons are appropriate. The second probably seems a more straight forward crime fiction book - if there is such a thing?

  3. These books sound like your kind of thing and not mine. That is, they sound good, but too gritty for me. But maybe I will change my mind when you read them and review them.

    1. Tracy cheers. Hopefully I can get you to have a re-think when I have read them!

  4. Col, the author has been compared to two of my favourite writers, John Irving and Kurt Vonnegut, and Harper Lee. I'll keep these books in mind for now.

    1. Prashant - I'm hoping more Irving than Vonnegut TBH. I can't say I loved Slaughterhouse Five in truth, my sole sampling of Vonnegut.