Posted tagged ‘Joe R. Lansdale’

Review: Savage Season

May 10, 2010

Two months back I read my first Hap and Leonard novel by Joe R. Lansdale, Mucho Mojo, mistakenly thinking at the time that it was the first book in the series.  Now I’ve fixed that mistake and tracked down the actual first book, Savage Season.  And I enjoyed it a great deal, but it turns out I didn’t miss anything by having skipped it originally.

In this adventure Hap and Leonard are lured into a get rich quick scheme by Hap’s ex-wife, who abandoned him while he was in prison for refusing to serve in ‘Nam.  Her latest conquest, who has just returned from his own stint in jail, has learned of a stash of money from a bank robbery hidden in the swamps, and Hap is just the person who can locate it.   

But to do so he must ally with a group of former 60’s radicals that force him to confront the idealism that left him after his time in prison.  The plot’s a bit slight, but it makes for an excellent introduction to Hap, although his co-star Leonard doesn’t get to do much of anything in this tale, which is really a shame.  At least the next book makes up for that.

Besides that, a bit forgettable, but it’s still very much a Joe Lansdale story so it just reads like he’s in the room telling the story directly to you.  The man can write, possibly on instinct alone.  He’s done better however.

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Review: Mucho Mojo

March 8, 2010

I have an enormous love for Joe R. Lansdale, he probably has the strongest voice of any author working today.  Regularly telling larger than life East Texan yarns with the ease of a natural-born storyteller.  And Mucho Mojo fits just cements that opinion in me further.

Now this is the second book to feature the characters of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, although it’s the first I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  There will be others.  Hap and Leonard are a pair of mismatched Texan good old boys who have a tendency to find themselves in the midst of a series of grisly murder mysteries.  Hap’s a white farm laborer and Leonard’s a gay black man, who in the course of this novel lands a fairly sizeable inheritance.

It’s this inheritance that sets up the plot of this novel.  Amongst the belongings of his Uncle, Leonard comes across a chest containing a stash of child pornography along with the remains of a young boy.  Determined to prove his Uncle’s innocence Leonard (with Hap firmly in tow) starts up an amateur investigation into a crime the local police have opted to ignore.

The mystery itself is a bit formulaic and contains very few surprises, but the ease with which Lansdale tells it is wonderful to experience.  This is a fairly standard mystery at its heart, but it never feels like it.  The story progresses so naturally that the usual tropes pass by nearly unnocticed, and Hap and Leonard make a truly great pair of amateur detectives.

Are Genres Past their Prime?

May 19, 2008

This is something I’ve been pondering a lot lately.  Actually for most of my life based on my own reading habits, which tend to defy easy classification (China Mieville, Joe R. Lansdale, Chuck Palahniuk, etc…).  Mieville is a particularly good example, in that he pretty much represents the New Weird movement.  The New Weird is one of three fairly recent movements within the f&sf community that seek to combine the tropes of multiple genres for various effects (the others being Slipstream and Interstitial).   Mieville’s stories (particularly his Bas Lag novels) have an incredible willingness to incorporate any and all literary devices as long as they can effectively tell the story.

This sort of genre merging isn’t anything terribly new, Star Trek was pitched as being about “a wagon train to the stars”, but it is gaining a new sort of prominence with every new vampire/romance series to hit the shelves.  With that in mind, I’m really wondering if it’s still useful to break out genre books into special collections.  At my library we catalog s.f., mystery, romance, and westerns separately, and any time we receive something that crosses a boundary we either place it wherever the previous book by that author went, or just give up and toss it in general fiction.

Obviously I hate this approach, but I’ve been unable to come up with something that will both appease our patrons who seek out those collections and my own sense of accuracy.  So if anyone out there on the interwebs has any suggestions please let me know, because frankly I’m at a bit of a loss.