Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Timeline: Tom Franklin and “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter”


Thomas Gerald Franklin is born on July 7th in Dickinson, AL. An avid reader of horror and adventure novels, comic books and pulp fiction books, Franklin was far from being an excellent student. In his 2002 interview with Anne Breland, he names Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Conan the Barbarian and the novels of Steven King as his major influences. Franklin also points out that besides drawing various series of comics he enjoyed “playing with G. I. Joes and imagining their lives” and “[b]uilding sci-fi forts from cardboard boxes and bricks, drawing control panels on the walls”.


The Franklin family moves to Mobile where Tom Franklin attends the University of Southern Alabama. As Franklin works part-time besides his studies (“as a heavy equipment operator at a sandblasting grit factory, a construction inspector in a chemical plant, a clerk at a hospital morgue, and he also worked at hazardous waste clean-up sites”, Breland, 2002), it takes him nine years until he can graduate with a B.A. in English.


Franklin teaches at Selma University, a predominantly black Bible college located in Selma, AR. It is affiliated with the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention.


Franklin completes his M.F.A. in Fiction from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. --- July: Franklin wins the Writers at Work Literary Nonfiction Contest.


Franklin becomes Phillip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. He publishes his first book, Poachers, a collection of ten short stories. For the title story Franklin receives the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Short Story.


Tom Franklin moves to Oxford, MS, as the John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss.


Tom Franklin is granted a Guggenheim Fellowship.


In an interview with Anne Breland, Franklin names Barry Hannah, Rick Bass, and Cormac McCarthy as major influences. For “aspiring young authors”, he also recommends reading Flannery O’Connor, Faulkner, and Hemingway.


In his first novel, Hell at the Breech, Franklin describes an actual violent feud in 1892 called the Mitcham War which took place in Clarke County, AL.


Aug. 15th: TheAlumni Grill II: Anthology of Southern Writers is edited by Tom Franklin and his wife Beth Ann Fennelly.


His following novel, Smonk, is also set in Alabama. Like Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, it tells the story of a murderer and rapist terrorizing a small town in the rural south, Old Texas.


Oct. 5th: William Morrow publishes Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Franklin is awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award,


Franklin co-authors the novel The Tilted World with his wife Beth Anne Fennelly. The Titled World is set in the South and deals with the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.


Currently, Tom Franklin is Associate Professor of Fiction Writing in the University of Mississippi’s M.F.A. program.

Story timeline


Carl Ott (married to Ina Ott) has an affair with Alice Jones.


Silas and Larry are born.


Alice Jones meets Oliver, her boyfriend for the following seven years.


Larry is allowed to carry a gun.


Carl takes Larry to help at the garage.

1978, Sept.

Larry enters Chabot Middle School.

1979, March

After Silas and his mom have left Chicago, Silas and Larry meet for the first time as Carl Ott picks up Silas and his mother on their way to school.

1979, summer

Larry gets in trouble for a racist insult (calling a black girl “Monkey Lips”).

1980, late Feb.

Larry goes to meet Silas at the cabin and teaches him to shoot.

1980, summer

Larry and Silas draw comic books in the woods.

1980, late Sep.

Larry teaches Silas how to shoot and leaves his father’s rifle with him.

1980, Apr.

Larry and Silas go fishing.

1980, July

Carl makes his sons fight – when Larry calls his half-brother a “nigger”, Silas breaks off their friendship. After that, Alice and Silas move to Fulsom.


Cindy Walker gets killed.


Larry joins the Army.

1986, summer

Carl gets killed in a car accident. Larry is “honorably discharged” to take care of his mother.


Wallace Stringfellow, still a rather young boy, appears in Larry’s barn.


Alice Jones, Silas’s mother, dies.

2006, Nov.

Wallace (now in his early 20s) is back, paying a visit to Larry in a stolen truck.

2006, Dec.24th, Wed

Wallace leaves Larry a gun for Christmas.

2006, Dec. 31st

Wallace comes over to Larry’s for New Year’s Eve.

2007, late Jan.

Wallace asks Larry questions about Tina Rutherford and gets turned away.

2007, late Feb.

Larry makes enquiries about Wallace.

2007, June

Larry thinks about training Wallace to be a mechanic.

2007, late July

Larry reflects on his going to church and speaks a prayer for Wallace.

2007, Aug.

Morton Morisettte gets killed, presumedly by Charles Deacon, “a well-known crackhead”

2007, mid-August

Tina Rutherford gets killed (“8 days ago”).

2007, late August

Start of the plot: Silas starts investigating the Tina Rutherford case.

2007, early Sep.

Wallace nearly kills Larry. Larry is taken to hospital.

2007, a week later

Silas finds Tina Rutherford’s body buried under Larry’s cabin.

2007, a few weeks later

Silas is injured by Wallace, who dies a few hours later.

2007, some time later

Silas is released from hospital.

2007, 5 days later

Larry walks home against his doctor’s advice to be welcomed by Silas and Angie. End of the plot.



  • Franklin, Tom (2010): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. New York, William Morrow (orig. ed.)
  • Franklin, Tom (2011): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. London: Macmillan, 2011
  • Franklin, Tom (2017a): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: [Klassenstufe SII, Schulform GES, GYM], ed. Rudolph Rau. Braunschweig: Diesterweg
  • Franklin, Tom (2017b): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, ed. Paul Maloney. Berlin: Cornelsen
  • Franklin, Tom (2017c): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, ed. Harald Weisshaar. Stuttgart: Klett, Sprachen


  • Franklin, Tom (2010): Krumme Type, krumme Type, ed. and transl. by Frank Nowatzki (2018), Berlin: Pulpmaster

Secondary Resources

  • Klein, Ulrike & Gabriele Kugler-Euerle, Edd. (2018): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: Von Tom Franklin. Paderborn : Schöningh Westermann, EinFach Deutsch
  • Nowotny, Sarah (2017): Tom Franklin, Crooked letter, Crooked Letter: Interpretationshilfe für Oberstufe und Abitur. Stuttgart: Klett, Lerntraining, 2017
  • Stritzelberger, Ingrid (2017): Tom Franklin, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: Study Guide. Braunschweig: Diesterweg, Diesterwegs neusprachliche Bibliothek
  • Tonn, Horst & Florian Nuxoll (2018): Tom Franklin, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: Interpretationshilfe mit deutscher Zusammenfassung. Braunschweig: Diesterweg, Diesterwegs neusprachliche Bibliothek
  • Weisshaar, Harald (2017): Guided Reading Journal: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. Stuttgart: Klett, Sprachen
  • Weisshaar, Harald (2017): Tom Franklin, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: Teacher’s Guide. Stuttgart: Klett, Sprachen
  • Missel, Lena (2018): Lektürewortschatz zu Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Stuttgart: Klett, Sprachen
  • Maloney, Paul (2017): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: Interpretationshilfen. Berlin: Cornelsen, 2017 (Cornelsen Senior English Library)

Media: Audios and Videos