About the book, Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Stories of Joe R. Lansdale
- Crime Fiction / Mystery / Short Stories
- Publisher: Tachyon Publications
- Date of Publication: August 15, 2023
- Number of Pages: 352 pages
- Scroll down for Giveaway!
Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series) returns to the piney, dangerous woods of East Texas. In this career retrospective of his best crime stories, Lansdale shows exactly why critics continue to compare him to Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner.
- In the 1950s, a young small-town projectionist mixes it up with a violent gang.
- When Mr. Bear is not alerting us to the dangers of forest fires, he lives a life of debauchery and murder.
- A brother and sister travel to Oklahoma to recover the dead body of their uncle.
- A lonely man engages in dubious acts while pining for his rubber duckie.
In this collection of nineteen unforgettable crime tales, Joe R. Lansdale brings his legendary mojo and witty grit to harrowing heists, revenge, homicide, and mayhem. No matter how they begin, things are bound to get ugly—and fast.
Praise for this book:
“A terrifically gifted storyteller.” -– Washington Post Book Review
“One of the best crime writers in the business.” — Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Revelators
“While Lansdale’s work is as varied as the regions of Texas, there is one common link through it all: his brilliant storytelling.” –- Grimdark Magazine
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About the author, Joe R. Lansdale
Joe R. Lansdale (Savage Season, The Donut Legion) is the internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the popular, long-running Hap and Leonard novels. Many of his cult classics have been adapted for television and film, most famously the films Bubba Ho-Tep and Cold in July and the Hap and Leonard series on Sundance TV and Netflix. Lansdale has written numerous screenplays and teleplays, including for the iconic Batman: The Animated Series. He has won an Edgar Award for The Bottoms and ten Stoker Awards, and he has been designated a World Horror Grandmaster. Lansdale, like many of his characters, lives in East Texas, with his wife, Karen.
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In the second introduction to this collection of short stories, Things Get Ugly, the author, Joe Lansdale, states that he doesn’t use trigger warnings, which I appreciated, though I’d argue that that is a form of trigger warning. Still, if you haven’t read any of Lansdale’s previous work (I haven’t), you should know that his use of coarse language, rough sex, and extreme violence makes Stephen King’s work seem PG-13. So, yes, these stories are gritty, earthy, violent. They combine horror, noir, and pulp-fiction. They will push you to the edge of your comfort zone, and leave you feeling a little squeamish. But good writing and good storytelling should provoke a reaction.
They are also BRILLIANT. Lansdale’s writing is vivid and visceral. Even when I was confronted by content I would not typically choose (the first entry in this collection, “The Steel Valentine” would require an entire page of entries at Does the Dog Die, if it were included there), I could not stop reading. The characters leap off the page, capture you in a strangle-hold, and do not let go until you’ve finished their story.
For the most part, these are not people I’d want to meet, but the stories are quirky, original, and interesting. Sure, some of them, like the afore-mentioned “The Steel Valentine” feel like the violence is almost gratuitous, but then there’s “The Ears,” which is the kind of Hitchcock -meets-O. Henry thriller that I love, and “Billie Sue,” which manages to be poignant in places. “Santa at the Cafe” is perfectly layered, and truly funny, while “Dead Sister,” is a truly unique take on ghouls (and may I take a moment to applaud the author for understanding the ghouls and zombies are totally different things?) . And then there’s “Mr Bear,” which introduces us to a side of Smokey Bear (yes, that Smokey Bear) that I almost wish I could un-read, except that as dark and twisted as it is, it’s also perfect.
Things Get Ugly includes nineteen stories in all, each with a short introduction from the author. I’m not going to review every one of them. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea – or fifth of gin – but they’re definitely worth the time spent reading, and you can tell that the author put care into every word. The beauty of short story anthologies is that you can read one, skip around in the book, or even keep it for bathroom reading (though if you’re like me, your feet will fall asleep if you do that).
Goes well with: A juicy steak and a glass of Scotch.
Each receives print copies of
Things Get Ugly & Born for Trouble
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/18/23)
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