Literary Criticism and Significance

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 578

Bloodroot is written in a series of interwoven first-person narratives. Structured in four parts, the first part of Bloodroot uses Doug Cotter and Byrdie Lamb as narrators, switching back and forth between each in successive narrative sections. The second part of the novel uses Johnny and Laura Odom as the narrators and the third and fourth parts are narrated by Myra and John Odom, respectively.

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The separate parts of the book overlap in terms of time and content so that elements of the story unavailable to the narrating characters of one section are revealed by other narrating characters elsewhere in the novel. For instance, details of Myra's marriage to John Odom are only hinted at by Byrdie but later are explained fully when Myra is the narrator.

Author Amy Greene develops individualized voices for each narrating character, generating specific grammars and vocabularies for each distinct narrative voice. 

Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2010, Bloodroot is Amy Greene’s first novel. Greene lives in Tennessee, where the novel is set. The book was released as a paperback in 2011. Winner of the Weatherford Award for fiction from the Appalachian Studies Association, Bloodroot has achieved commercial success and has been translated into several languages, including Turkish and Italian.

Greene lists a variety of literary influences from Toni Morrison and Alice Sebold to Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, and John Steinbeck. Many of the influences she cites are Southern and female voices, such as Alice Walker.

Gilead by Marilyn Robinson and A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan are two of the more contemporary works that Greene refers to that demonstrate her interest in the work of her contemporaries as well as the work of writers who published in the twentieth century.

Greene’s comments on Bloodroot tend to focus on the Appalachian and Southern aspects of the book as well as her identity as a person from the South. Referencing the isolating effect of the Appalachian Mountains on her world view, Green also cites Cormac McCarthy as the writer who proved to her that a limited geographic perspective can be an advantage, allowing a writer to create powerful characters out of a familiar cultural world. A majority of her book signings and speaking...

(The entire section contains 578 words.)

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