On the whole ... I liked parts of it. The writing is really poetic in places. Still, no one needs a chapter about the poetry of an oil strike any more than they need a chapter on how to get ambergris out of a white whale.
Characters - Perhaps a few too many, and the sheriff’s eyes were described as pig-like more than once, but they all had at least two dimensions. The good guy’s a bit too good, and he seems to run only on emotional extremes, but the main female character Aggie is really well-developed. The villain is probably the most interesting, of course, as they often are.
Setting - Well, I would have liked to have been reminded it was 1930 between chapters 1 and 14. And there are two towns mentioned: One in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma, and it’s essential you know where you are because flashbacks are in Arkansas. That’s confusing.
Conflict - Drinking vs the demons: guilt, fear, self-delusion.
Plot - Instead of a bell curve of rising action, climax, falling action, it’s a flat line until three fourths in, when there’s a steep spike upward, a plateau, and then an immediate and even sharper plummet down. (“The trial took three days ... THE END.”)
Resolution - I’ve written essays for junior high that had more thought put into the resolution.
Theme - Drinking is bad, don’t do it.
So am I doing anything with the novel?
Well, I want to, because parts of it are good. The parts that let you picture yourself in the action, those are great. The parts most writers hate: what my one fiction professor described as “getting out of the apartment and down to the car” — those parts are actually pretty enjoyable.
Hoo-boy, that plot though. Entire chapters need to be gutted and swapped around so that something actually happens. Do I have enough imagination for that? I once was able to daydream for hours, in my youth.
Now of course, I worry for hours. Is that the same?
Sounds like a project. Hm.