I had been seeing “Where the Crawdads Sing” on bookshelves for some time, and recently – desperate for something to read on the plane, and unable to find something to my usual non-fiction taste – bought a copy to read on the plane. I’m not sorry I did. But ever since Samuel Taylor Coleridge defined “willing suspension of disbelief,” we’ve known it was essential to enjoying good fiction. I found that challenging with this book.

Delia Owens’ novel revolves around a child in a way below poverty level shack in the seacoast swamps of North Carolina, gradually abandoned by her siblings, her psychologically broken mom, and finally, her abusive alcoholic dad. Alone at the age of ten or so, she manages. She evolves into a beautiful but extremely eccentric young woman, the quintessential outsider, dumped on constantly by better-off “townies”; horribly introverted and totally untrusting; and self-sufficient in most ways but inclined more to flight than fight when in danger.

Now, this is a gun blog. What challenged me was this: the only gun that ever appears in the book is the Colt revolver of a court bailiff. One would have expected someone who lived in the swamp to have had at least a .22 to leave behind for the abandoned child. But the heroine, Kya, doesn’t carry so much as a pocket folder, using knives only to chop vegetables to cook on the shack’s wood stove.  One does not survive long in such places without edged tools for common tasks, not to mention self-defense. As she discovers, there can be dangerous humans in the swamp, and certainly dangerous animals: there are a good half-dozen venomous snakes alone to be found in North Carolina, never mind bears and such.

What saved the book was author Owens’ lyrical, evocative writing; her deft plotting; and her ability to create a few characters I could absolutely identify, if not identify with.  She made the nearly impossible seem plausible. 

Read “Where the Crawdads Sing” if only for the skillful writing.  Savor the very strong vein of self-sufficiency that runs through the novel.  And see for yourself.

(PS: If you read the book first, the movie flows better for you.)


  1. I’ve been hearing of the book for some time as Owens grew up with one of my cousins. My wife loved the movie. I should probably read the book based on both of your endorsements!

  2. Apparently, research assistants either aren’t being hired or, ain’t what they used to be.

    Unfortunately, you get a lot of everyday detail errors where the author/proof readers have no frame of reference for the period or situation. It gets really grating where the author gets advertised for presenting authentic, real world stuff. They don’t seem to grasp the Jeff Cooper comment to the effect that: “The past is a foreign place, they do things differently there.”

  3. I’m an admitted book worm and gun nut, a combination which surprises people. I’ve read the book and seen the movie, they were both entertaining and well worth the time.

  4. I enjoyed the book but also wondered about the lack of some essential tools that would’ve been commonplace at that time & place.

  5. Thinking of surviving without an edged tool: a number of years ago I came across an online account by someone who had hiked an 1100 mile trail -iirc on the west coast, not the Appalachian but I could be wrong- and claimed that as an ultralight hiker she didn’t carry even a pocket knife.

    Being in a snarky mood I commented to the effect that if she could do that without a pocket knife it must have been a hike though an 1100 mile shopping mall.

    You can imagine the response. I did apologize.

    On the other hand, I spent from December of 1974 to November of 1977 traveling overland through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, some of SE Asia, the US, and back through Europe to India. Mostly by local bus, some -especially the US, Germany, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, and Thailand- hitchhiking, much with nothing but a JanSpirt book bag and a sleeping bag. So I traveled light, too.

    I went through relatively little wilderness, mostly in Jordan and Pakistan and the poppy villages of northern Thailand, but I sure would not have wanted to do it without a Swiss Army knife. I’ve worn one ever since.

    Walk 1100 miles without a knife? Maybe if there’s a shopping mall every ten miles.

  6. Mas, good of you to mention the unlikely weaponless state of the main character. So atypical of rural nature-dwellers being totally vulnerable to a hostile environment. A rare place not to have at least a .22 and a single-shot or side-by-side shotgun, not to mention a female or two to rival Annie Oakley. IIRC, even young Mowgli in Kipling’s “Jungle Book” had a cool .32 pistol to even the odds against goblin predators. The deficiency in weapons in “Crawdads” is actually in parallel to the lack of a strong male or two to fend of marauders. Of course, the story could have been shortened a lot if Walter Brennan had been around with his iconic side-by-side 12-gauge broken open over his shoulder. I now will have to read the book and watch the movie, though. One thing about swampy NC, it is a good place to pack a handy handgun, especially in reptile-infested flood days like our post-Ian ones. Cotton-mouth moccasins have killed unarmed soldiers in training before. Why we don’t arm our soldiers at least in advanced training, is beyond me. Even a compact 9mm revolver with a choice of snakeshot or Buffalo Outdoorsman in a high chest rig beats nothing, especially in swamp wading.

  7. The non-fiction book that I am reading, at the moment, is “The Great Reset” (Subtitle: Joe Biden and the Rise of 21st Century Fascism) by Glenn Beck.

    Mr. Beck has done a service by pulling a lot of disparate information into a single source. However, so far (I am about halfway through the book), he has not presented anything to shock me. I already had a pretty good bead on this “Great Reset” movement.

    It is all yet another attempt to build “Utopia” here on Earth. As readers of this blog know, I am anti-utopian. Or, to use the new “Woke” language, I am a Utopia-Denier.

    Quote of the Day:

    “History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” – Edward Gibbon, Author of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

    On a broad-scale, Gibbon is correct. However, I can cut it even finer:

    “History is the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of narcissistic, con-artist, egomaniacs who cannot deal with reality of their own mortality and who, therefore, seek immortal status by leading a social movement that tries to create a utopia-on-earth.”

    Think about history for a moment. Here are some examples:

    1) The Pharaohs of Egypt declared themselves to be Gods and built massive tombs, for themselves, so that they could live forever in the afterlife.
    2) Alexander the Great tried to conquer his way to utopia.
    3) The Roman Emperors declared themselves to be Gods and thought that they were bringing utopia to Earth by means of the Pax Romana.
    4) Mohammad declared himself a Prophet of Allah and declared that he was doing Allah’s will by spreading Islam by means of the sword.
    5) Genghis Khan, in the mold of Alexander, also tried to conquer his way to utopia.
    6) Napoleon declared himself Emperor and tried to conquer all of Europe and parts of the Middle East. No doubt, he thought that he was leading France into a New Utopia.
    7) Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and numerous others, all became drunk with power and tried to create a “Workers Paradise”. Their Communist version of utopia.
    8) Hitler declared himself to be “The Fuhrer” and declared that he would create a Reich that would live a Thousand Years.
    9) Now we have “The Great Reset”. I have no doubt that Klaus Schwab, and the other leaders of this movement, think of themselves as Gods. At least, they think of themselves as being Superior Beings who are far, far, far above “The Common Herd” of humanity. Despite all the past failures to build Utopia, they think that they are doing it “Right this time”. This time, they will not fail. The time is finally ripe. The World of the 21st Century finally makes it possible. Look out, Utopia, here we come!

    Unfortunately, once one of these utopian-movements gains momentum, they become almost impossible to stop. They achieve a “critical mass” of believers who truly think utopia is on its way. As P.T. Barnum noted: “There is a sucker born every minute.”

    It seems that each generation has its share of egomaniac con-artists and gullible suckers. So, the lessons of History are never learned, and humanity is doomed to constantly repeat its destructive cycle of utopia-pursuit followed by catastrophic failure.

    Frankly, this modern, left-wing “Great Reset” movement is already about too massive to stop. The herd of gullible suckers is already running at a trot and will soon become a full stampede of lemmings.

    We have waited too long. However, it could be slowed down here in America. One major thing that could be done would be to call a “Convention of the States” and then pass a “Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA)” to the Constitution. If we could add a strong BBA to the Constitution, it would stall the Great Reset here in America. The Great Reset depends upon massive government deficit spending to finance its radical social changes. A strong BBA would shut down the financing of the Great Reset in America. It would cause the “Great Reset” to wither and die on the vine here.

    Unfortunately, it would not kill it totally. The Great Reset would continue as a global movement. Eventually, it would turn on America and try to force us back into the fold; the BBA be damned.

    Chances of getting that America-saving BBA passed and approved are slim to none. I would estimate them as being less than 1%. Our government and politicians are all addicted to tax and spend policies. This applies to both major parties. A strong BBA would put a damper on all the spending, graft, and kickbacks enjoyed by both parties. It would take away the punch-bowl just as the party is in full swing! Big-business enjoys feeding off the tax dollars too. So, all those who benefit under the current corrupt system would rally to kill a BBA from ever being approved and adopted. Here is another quote:

    “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the innovator has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

    Without a BBA, the deficit spending will continue, and the “Great Reset” will proceed apace.

    Of course, utopia will not be the result. All previous efforts at creating a utopia-on-earth have only ended in warfare, widespread death, and universal misery. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride forth whenever one of these utopian-movements reaches full blossom. If we don’t somehow stop the Great Reset, at least here in America, then the Horsemen will ride again. They are already adjusting their saddles and sharpening their blades!

    • TN_MAN,

      The closest mankind has ever come to utopia is Disney World in Orlando, Florida. However, no one lives there, and for its charm, it is heavily dependent on illusion.

  8. well TN_MAN, some pray, some prey, some sharpen their blades and some just accept what it is. THE GREAT RESET WILL PIT NEIGHBOR AGAINST NEIGHBOR, and the plan will play out accordingly.

    if you are a person of faith, your beliefs will be what they are. if you have no faith but only hope, your hopes fulfillment will be what it is. likewise, utopia has many different meanings, definitions…

    you sharpen your blades, i’m loading magazines and planning MY utopia… being left alone and growing my own food!

    • @ Larry McClain – “…MY utopia… being left alone and growing my own food!”

      Your dream is an old one. See this quote:

      Quote of the Day:

      Micah 4:4 – “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”

      Unfortunately, the World’s Leftists won’t and can’t afford to just let people alone. They are driven by their own utopian mindset to remake the World to fit their illusions. No Leftist is ever content just to live their own life. Their ego, and their fears of their own limited time and pending death, drive them to remake the World RIGHT NOW. They live not merely to “make the World a Better Place” (in their own self-serving language) but to make it perfect. Like Hitler, they are driven to build a Reich that will breed Supermen and that will “live a Thousand Years”. A Reich so perfect that their names will be immortalized in the History Books because of the Utopian Movement that they launched and steered to success.

      When you are building “Utopia”, you can’t afford to let some backward fool sit under his old fig tree and “do his own thing”. No Sir; such a backward fool MUST be brought into the PROGRAM. He (or she) must be RE-EDUCATED to change their backward ways. If one is too stupid or stubborn to learn, then too bad. He (or she) will be crushed under the wheels of PROGRESS as the whole human race is brought up to speed for UTOPIA!

      By Jim, they mean to have their Peaceful Utopia and they don’t care who they have to KILL to get it! 🙂

      When the “Great Reset” reaches full bloom, stragglers like you won’t be allowed to sit on the sidelines. You will be forced to either “bend the knee” or else you will need those loaded magazines.

      I am getting long-in-the-tooth myself. My hope is to be allowed to live out the remainder of my life before everything really goes down the toilet. The grave is a shelter that is safe from the reach of even the worst utopian fanatic.

      Unfortunately, things are going downhill so rapidly, in this Nation, that it will be close thing. Will the Grim Reaper act before the wet stuff hits the fan? It is looking like a tight race at this moment.

      It is our children and grandchildren that will truly be the ones trampled under the hooves of the Four Horsemen. I pray for them!

  9. I’ve read ‘Where the Crawdads Sing.’ Good read. I’d probabbly describe it as “Chick-lit with a twist.” Which is probably a little unfair since that sounds a little off putting, and as I said, it’s a good read.

    As to Kya no having a gun around the place? Her Dad sold it to buy booze?

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