There is another world, but it is in this one.

Paul Eluard. Œuvres complètes, vol. 1, Gallimard, 1968.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Reading Joe R. Lansdale: Days 4-5

High Cotton: Selected Stories of Joe R. Lansdale

A career-spanning best-of collection. Some hits and misses, but more hits than misses.

The Pit
Two men, one Black and one Caucasian, fight for their lives in the titular pit. For the delectation of a racist community. Solidarity goes by the board. File under "To do well that which should not be done at all," which is probably a Lansdale mantra.

Not from Detroit
Superb story about Grim Reapers and the bargains they strike with we mortals.

Booty and the Beast
Pulpish noir with some turning-of-the-tables. To be honest, noir narratives after approximately 1970 aspire to an unearned hipness and gravitas.

Steppin' Out, Summer '68
Magnificent. Ghoulishly funny.

Incident On and Off a Mountain Road
A perfectly organized tale. Who is the victim, who the predator? A plot like
The Worm Ouroboros.

My Dead Dog, Bobby
A genuine weeper? I passed on it.

Trains Not Taken
Alternate history of the wild, wild west. A lot of thinking went into it.

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back
A canonical apocalyptic story. Not to be missed.

Dog, Cat and Baby
A clever animal story. Ernest Thompson Seton it is not.

Mister Weed-Eater
A perfect story of menace and social anxiety. Not to be missed.

By Bizarre Hands
Deeply unsettling southern gothic story about a travelling preacher and a mentally retarded teenage woman on Halloween.

The Fat Man and the Elephant
A truly strange story about religion, mysticism, and self-deception.

The Phone Woman
Like "Mister Weed-Eater" and "The Fat Man and the Elephant," part of a series of tense, annihilating stories where protagonists confront twilight zones destroying their deeply-invested pelf and place.

Letter from the South, Two Moons West of Nacogdoches
More alt Western history.

By the Hair of the Head
A discontinued lighthouse and "a ventriloquist's dummy."

The Job
More noirish nonsense.

Godzilla's Twelve Step Program
A fine fantasy. Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

Drive-in Date
One of the best stories in the collection. Simply ghastly levels of alienation and sociopathology sweetened with more than a twist of black humor.

Bob the Dinosaur Goes to Disneyland
Mirthful tale of a husband and wife sending their inflatable dinosaur child to The Theme Park.

The Steel Valentine
More sub-par noir.

Night They Missed The Horror Show
Canonical. This will be the story mentioned in the first paragraph of every Lansdale obituary. Raw power and shocking artistic authority.

21 October 2018

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