Doyle Redmond is on the drift from a failed marriage and a floundering life, moving in an easterly direction in the Volvo he stole from his soon-to-be-ex-wife, heading for home the red and rocky soil of the Ozarks where Redmonds have been farming and fighting since just after the Civil War. More than likely it was a mistake to stop off en route for a visit with his folks in Kansas City. It was hard to refuse when they asked him to ferret out his big brother back home in West Table, Mo., and charm (or strong-arm) him into giving himself up to the K.
C. law. And in the tradition of no good deed goes unpunished, Doyles filial favor bites back. He isnt in West Table long before he finds himself in a lot more trouble than car theft, having committed manslaughter or murder on one of the Dolly clan.
Dollys and Redmonds have been blood feuding for as long as memory serves, and no one in West Table was going to believe it was an accident. Least of all the Dollys. Acidly funny and so original in its wordcraft that its prose seems to sing, Give Us a Kiss gives dimension and life to a world usually glimpsed only in comic strips and bad sitcoms.
It is a world as rooted in its past as in its soil, a world that cares more for bloodlines and family than for the American dream, which it shapes to fit itself, obeying codes that fly in the face of established norms. Only a writer of Dan Woodrells talents could strip the caricature from these lives and give us the reality of their world. It is the world Doyle Redmond ran from.
The world he now finds is all he has - or ever really had. Returning to his past in search of his future, Doyle is negotiating for his manhood, for his very soul. Some might wonder at the bargain he finally strikes, but none can question the power of the books conclusion.