The Maid's Version
Forty-two people were killed in the 1929 dance hall explosion in the fictional Ozark town of West Table, Missouri. Alma, a maid for one of West Table's richest families, knows just how it happened. For being such a slim book, Alma's story spans many decades, and weaves in numerous suspects; mobsters from St. Louis, persecuted local gypsies, or maybe an overzealous preacher. Alma’s memory of the event drifts in and out of focus as she ages, jumping back and forth in time, while either leading the reader to the culprit or describing another victim of the horrible explosion.
The Maid’s Version is loosely based on the 1928 dance hall explosion in West Plains, MO, which is where Woodrell’s mother was born. This literary story showcases Woodrell’s unique yet beautiful use of language. The jumping story structure may not appeal to everyone, but it is short enough to be given a chance.