Mike’s Prattle


Edward Lee – City Infernal, Joe R. Lansdale – Savage Season

Posted by Mike on June 26, 2007

I laughed a lot during both of these books but not for the same reasons. Right now I appear to be in a phase where I want something entertaining and fast-moving, but after reading City Infernal, I felt like I’d gone way too far in the direction of pulp horror. City Infernal, while being easily read, something I generally find a virtue, seemed to be a book written at about as fast a pace, with each conflict resolved by pulling an idea out of midair. “Uh-oh” says our protagonist Cassie, an “etheress” who has the ability, due, ahem, to her twin and virginity status, to travel to hell, and as hoards of the latest brand of ugly come rushing forward, “What do we do?” Thanks to the omniscient sidekicks, an answer is always waiting. “Perform the ritual of Heebeejeebies.” “But we need a body part for that!” *CHOP* goes said body part. While this is not word for word of course, or accurate really, it gives the method by which the plot propels itself, with the resolutions either having an obvious set up which made me expect it until it happened, or usually, no set up at all. Hell as city, Mephistopheles, seems to be a method of inverting the real world and not always imaginatively. The plot: Cassie loses her twin sister to suicide after she attempts to make it with her sister’s boyfriend (almost in public and with the obvious expectation she’d walk in on them). Tragedy leads to a move, to a haunted house, naturally, that appears to be a doorway to the netherworld. Cassie wants to tell her sister she’s sorry in person and thus descends with her sidekicks. Just about every twist and turn in this novel was fairly obvious in advance, which wouldn’t bother me so much except I had to sit through pages of the ripest dialogue I’ve read. Like a mad fusion of hollywood thrills and japery with nerdy fantasy. By the time I’d finished my eyes had rolled back into my head. I can’t say it was a total waste of time, but I doubt I’ll be reading any further in the “series.”

Mr. Lansdale’s dialogue, on the other hand, is a glory to behold, one full hysterical laugh per page at least. Savage Season is the opening salvo in the Hap and Leonard series, revolving around a friendship between a straight white man and a gay black man. Hap, the former, is suckered by his ex-wife to help find a stash of illegal money sunk in a car in a river somewhere. Leonard, despite misgivings, joins him and the plan starts to ahem, go to hell, in a hurry. While I suspect later installments in the series are better (I just started Mucho Mojo), I found the plot to be pretty tight and the dialogue priceless. Nearly every time Leonard opened his mouth I thought I was going to die. Most examples are hilarious raunchy. Great fun overall.


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