|Vintage Pulp||Aug 12 2021|
We recently bought a stack of digest paperbacks. These books generally came in the early 1950s and were often sexually charged dramas with women as the main characters. Dirt Farm falls into that basic category, though the lead is male, a war vet named Bern Winter who takes a fieldhand job hoping to exorcise his personal demons with hard work. Unfortunately, he's had the misfortune to walk right into a family out of Erskine Caldwell. There's the developmentally disabled man-child who's also a potentially dangerous physical brute. There's the amoral sex maniac who has lascivious designs on a sibling. There's the paragon of perfect femininity onto whom everyone attaches their hopes and dreams. There's the subservient domestic staffer bestowed with the wisdom of the ages. There's the emotionally crippled accident victim who wanders around in a daze playing a fiddle. And there are secrets. Secrets galore that bespeak the decadence of the South and its moneyed class. The straight shooting manly-man protagonist could ignore all this lunacy or disrupt it, and of course he dives in head first. These digest books are usually pretty good. Far better than you'd suspect if you haven't read any. But Dirt Farm feels like a rushed attempt to take advantage of the burgeoning southern noir sub-genre, and is shoddily constructed and ultimately pointless. Onward and upward.