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Bill Roberts had a history of messing things up. Things with his poor dead mama, for one. For another, the firecracker stand job he was planning with Fat Boy and Chaplin. And then there was his face, of course. When Bill finally crawled out of the swamp that day, his face was swollen to unrecognizable with stings and bites. Bill’s disfigured face and lack of smarts only serve to attract John Frost, manager of the Oddities of the World carnival and freak show. Bill fits in nicely with Double Buckwheat, Bim, Potty and the other carnival freaks. Frost runs the show with a beautiful blonde bombshell Gidget, a woman so desireable she can persuade Bill and the rest of the Oddities crew into doing just about anything. Before Bill knows it, he’s wrapped up in a dark scheme that threatens to burn everyone involved. Freezer Burn will have you rooting for the underdogs, and cringing at the behind-the-scenes horrors of the freak show.
The Big Blow
Peculiar weather settles over a bustling Texas sea port, a city made prosperous off the cotton trade and thick with racial inequality. The sky above Galveston, Texas darkens to the sickly green of a healing bruise, the sea turns black, and the inhabitants of the city have no idea the force of the hammer about to drop on them. The wild wind blows boxer John McBride into town, a white prize fighter with seemingly superhuman fury and skill. As black boxer Jack L’il Arthur Johnson prepares to fight this fierce opponent, the storm closes in. If he can survive the ring and the vicious undercurrents of the Jim Crow south, L’il Arthur will still have to fight his way through the storm winds, the rising flood waters, and the violent night. On September 8th, 1900, a hurricane ripped apart Galveston, Texas, killing nearly 8,000 people and nearly obliterating the town. Lansdale’s story brings dimension to many who lost their lives that day, and a few who survived.
The Tall Grass
THE TALL GRASS, AND OTHER STORIES, as seen on Netflix’ Love, Death & Robots.
This is a collection of Lansdale’s shorter fiction, many of them flash fiction.
Completists take note: many of these stories appeared in “The King and Other Stories” and “Unchained and Unhinged,” neither of which are available electronically. Added to them are several, “The Tall Grass” included, which have never been featured in any Lansdale collection, digital or otherwise. They run the gamut from weird to horrifying to thought provoking, stories that Lansdale feels have a “sharp and memorable impact, like ice pick pokes that hopefully left no wounds.”
Hot in December
A psychological thriller in the vein of Dean Koontz and Lee Child, Hot in December is a fast-paced and entertaining novella from the author of Edge of Dark Water, The Bottoms and the Hap and Leonard novel series.
One death is only the beginning for Tom and his wife Kelly who witness a fast-driving car killing their innocent neighbor in the street. Tom describes the driver to the police, but there is something he didn’t anticipate: The driver belongs to a powerful criminal gang in East Texas.
The criminals make Tom and his family a target, abducting his wife Kelly and threatening his daughter. Now Tom must look to old war comrades for help in a brutal and unforgiving struggle to rescue his wife and bring justice to the notorious gang.
A Fine Dark Line
13-year-old Stanley Mitchel Jr. spends most of his time helping his family run the town’s drive-in movie theater, reading ten-cent comics, and playing with his dog Nub. Life in East Texas circa 1958 is not very exciting until Stanley discovers a stash of old, crumbling love letters in a pile of burnt rubble behind the drive-in. As Stanley reads through the letters, he finds himself in the middle of a town mystery and discovering the secrets of his sleepy town. Stanley, with the help of the old projectionist and his older sister, uncovers the identities of the people who penned the letters and sheds light on a shocking 20 year-old murder plot. As Stanley unearths more and more truths, he realizes the injustices of life in East Texas in the 1950’s including class, race, gender, and the cruelty of unrequited love. Stanley feels betrayed by his family and his town as he takes a closer look at the dark truth and refuses to allow himself to succumb to the darkness.
On an island with a prison for the most evil and powerful criminals in the world, a new prisoner is strapped to the electric chair for execution. After multiple surges of electricity and nearly knocking out power to the entire island, the prisoner is finally dead. The staff buries him in the prison graveyard with a simple marker baring three numbers: 489. After the body is buried, a violent storm rocks the islands and a staff member goes missing. The crew rushes into the storm, searching for their lost comrade. They find that the burial site of prisoner 489 has been unearthed, and the body that was inside has gone missing. With a horrific finding and strange noises around them, a powerful threat is closing in. It’s a threat that they thought was impossible, and it will force them into a battle for their lives.
Dot waitresses on roller skates at the Dairy Bob, doesn’t care for smoking, at least partly on account of her dad having never returned from a cigarette run, and carries on the family tradition of philosophizing. Life hasn’t done her any favors in her 17 years so far. But if there was ever a heroine built for turning things upside down and seeing what shakes out, it’s Dot. Determined to find out who she is and why she’s the way she is, an opportunity presents itself when her heretofore-unknown uncle suddenly moves his camper into the front yard.
As in his classic novels The Bottoms and The Magic Wagon, Lansdale instills place with character and character with place. Here is an overlooked world and a cast of real folks that prove unforgettable, all rendered in one of American fiction’s most authentic voices.
This collection of Joe R. Lansdale stories represents the best of the “Lansdale” genre—a strange mixture of dark crime, even darker humor, and adventure tales. Though varied in setting and theme, all the stories are pure Lansdale—eerie, amusing, and occasionally horrific. In “The Pit,” modern gladiators square off against one another using Roman methods. An alternate-history tale called “Trains Not Taken” shows Buffalo Bill as an ambassador and Wild Bill Hickok as a clerk. Lansdale’s love of large lizards and humor are evident in the stories “Godzilla’s Twelve Step Program” and “Bob the Dinosaur Goes to Disneyland.”
Bleeding Shadows is Joe R. Lansdale’s largest, most varied collection to date. Weighing in at 488 pages and 150,000 words, these stories, poems, and novellas–supplemented by the author’s introduction and by an invaluable set of story notes–move effortlessly from horror, adventure, and suspense to literary pastiche. It is, by any measure, a major addition to an already impressive body of work.
The volume opens with ‘Torn Away,’ in which a small town sheriff encounters a man on the run from his own predatory shadow. The stories that follow come from all points of the narrative compass. In ‘Morning, Noon, and Night,’ a young boy stumbles across a monstrous, multi-faceted killer from which there is no escape. ‘The Bleeding Shadow’ is a tale of music, monsters, and deals-with-the devil set in post-WWII Texas. In ‘Star Light, Eyes Bright,’ an ordinary husband makes a startling discovery, one that leads to an unimaginable act of personal transformation. Elsewhere, the author offers us twisted Christmas stories (‘Santa at the Cafe’), tales of a zombie apocalypse (‘A Visit with Friends’), and one story–‘Christmas with the Dead’–that encompasses both of these elements. Other highlights include a pair of informed, affectionate acts of literary homage. ‘Metal Men of Mars’ pays tribute to the Martian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, while in ‘Dread Island,’ the masterful novella that concludes this collection, the world of Huckleberry Finn merges seamlessly with the worlds of H. P. Lovecraft and Joel Chandler Harris.
Sometimes funny, often horrifying, and always compulsively readable, this generous gathering of stories–few of which have previously appeared in book form–constitutes a significant publishing event. Bleeding Shadows is an indispensable, vastly entertaining volume, one that no admirer of Joe R. Lansdale’s distinctive brand of fiction can afford to miss.
Adrenalin-charged horror and vintage Lansdale at its finest, The Nightrunners is brutally violent. Part pulp noir, part splatter, this is a tale of survival and revenge.
In this newly reimagined collection alongside the original 1987 novel, The Nightrunners, the reader is treated to two additional stories inspired by the novel, including the first appearance of the God of the Razor.
God of the Razor
King of Shadows
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