Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter's Bone

I had intended to read Winter's Bone a few years ago when it first came out but never got around to it. Then I recently saw the movie and decided I needed to get off my duff and finally read the book, too. I'm just now finishing it up.
Daniel Woodrell is an exellent writer, and I liked both the movie and the book. However, I have to agree with Dick from Blue Eye, Missouri, who, in the Mail Box section of the current issue of the Ozarks Mountaineer magazine, said that if the characterizations in the movie are true to Ozarks life, "those people need to stop reproducing immediately."
I think the type of people portrayed in Winter's Bone do exist in the Ozarks, and I would even agree that they might be more prevalent in the Ozarks than in some other parts of the country. However, I think what Winter's Bone does is give credence to the idea that violent, clannish people are common and, indeed, almost the norm in the Ozarks.
Although the fact that the people in Winter's Bone are involved in the illegal production, sale, and use of meth obviously contributes to their insularity and their suspicion of outsiders, the way they are portrayed in both the book and the movie, I think, still perpetuates the stereotype of Ozarkians as hillbillies. The only difference between now and a hundred years ago is that, instead of running moonshine stills, these modern-day hillbillies are manufacturing meth.
The fact is that, even though meth production and trade in Missouri and the Ozarks has become what law enforcement calls an epidemic, very few entire clans are involved in the activity as the Dollys are in Winter's Bone, and most people in the Ozarks, even those in isolated areas, are friendly and welcoming.


Blogger Betty Craker Henderson said...

Larry, I couldn't agree more. I disliked the book because I thought the author made the characters seem to be the norm, which I don't believe is the case. I'm sorry they exist and I want things to become better and I hate for Ozark citizens to be portrayed like this as normal. You're right. It just continues the stereotype of a "new" type of hillbilly.

December 20, 2010 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Amas Veritas said...

Coming from an Ozark foothill family whose clannish ways are a strength instead of an embarrassment, I thouroughly agree with Betty. Our family has cooperated with the authorities to run known meth cooks OUT of our hills and valleys -- cooks, might I add, who work alone or with other strung-out drifting types. Usually this kind of behavior is a one-way ticket to Outsville from our rural families out here. Thank you for addressing this misconception. We ain't so bad after all. :)

December 22, 2010 at 7:44 AM  

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