Mike’s Prattle


Joe R. Lansdale – Mucho Mojo, Dead in the West; Martin Scott – Thraxas and the Sorcerers; Neil Gaiman et al – Sandman Vol. 5 A Game of You

Posted by Mike on July 13, 2007

Thank Texas for Joe Lansdale, whose books, nice and short as they are, are making for quick and fun reads. Mucho Mojo is the second of the Hap & Leonard books that started with Savage Season, in fact I opened it right after that book and this title follows a few weeks later in book time. Leonard’s uncle dies and Hap goes with him to the funeral and later to help him get the house back in shape. In doing so, they unearth the bones of a young child among magazines of a very dubious sort and due to Leonard’s assurance his uncle would have never had anything to do with that sort of thing, seeks to clear his name up. The rest of the book drives forward, as Hap enters a mixed race relationship and the two of them bring in the police. It’s musings on interacial relationships and the idea of helping out one another and being tolerant are all issues that resonate strongly for me. It doesn’t end on quite the same intense violent note Savage Season does, but there is plenty of action in the climax nonetheless. I don’t own the next four, but I can imagine they’ll be part of my next purchases.

Dead in the West is one of his early stories and I read the revised, Night Shade hardback. Stylistically and tonally it’s quite a bit different in style, without that Texan patter that makes Lansdale so readable. Instead it’s pure B-movie pulp, a preacher man losing his faith shows up to a small town that he ends up finding is under a curse after an Indian lost his lover to one of the bigotted lawmen in town. It’s actually one of those back entrance Cthulhu mythos stories, made so, I suppose, by that hoary list of books that always comes out when one of the protagonists starts to suspect there’s some heebie jeebies going on. Anyway the whole thing was utterly cliche in just about every way, very readable but definitely minor Lansdale overall, and after the Brian Keene duology, the zombie stuff at the end seemed almost casual. But like Keene, no character is safe in Lansdale’s world.

Martin Scott’s Thraxas and the Sorcerers will likely end my interest in the series, which is a bit of brainless fun in the first place. With great controversy the first book in the series won the World Fantasy Award, pissing off just about every lit-friendly speculative fiction writer out there and probably for good reason. But whatever complaints one might have about that book, the formula wears much thinner by this one, book five, and I found the usual mystery to be rather dull and the patter between Thraxas and Makri to be much less inventive than I’d remembered. In fact someone like Steven Brust does this sort of thing SO much better in his Taltos series. Anyway I had some fun with them and there does seem to be an arc moving somewhere, I’m just basically losing interest in Tolkien-based fantasy worlds and this is one of the easier casualties to predict.

And in the “YOU HAVEN’T READ THAT YET?!??” category, the fifth volume of Sandman. I feel kind of dumb just talking about this series which to me gets better with every volume, including A Game of You. Samuel Delany does a much better job than I could possibly do explaining the complexity and depth of the plotting, but I did notice the play between two realities and the idea that one isn’t necessarily more true than another, the type of subject that lights a fire under a mystic. I thought I noticed some similarities, particularly with the transgender character between this and Grant Morrison’s invisibles, it really seems like some of these comics work with ostracized character types, which seems to be something of a play of identity and that idea of masks that Delany goes into in the intro (which I read last). Anyway it’s one of the most famous series in the form, so you don’t need my recommendation.


3 Responses to “Joe R. Lansdale – Mucho Mojo, Dead in the West; Martin Scott – Thraxas and the Sorcerers; Neil Gaiman et al – Sandman Vol. 5 A Game of You”

  1. An in-teresting assortment of writers. Lansdale is one of those guys who seems to have been around forever and never QUITE broken through. Gaiman, on the other hand, will only get bigger and bigger. Maybe Joe should try his hand at some graphic novels–that might be just the audience he’s been looking for.
    Good posting, thanks.

  2. Mike said

    I think Joe is working on a Conan comic at the moment, so I think his hands are pretty full in that area (Jonah Hex in the past, others). He seems to be doing well on the awards front of late and I think his new book is a Vintage, so I don’t think sales are a problem, maybe he’s on the break out bubble. 😀

    Lately I just can’t really concentrate on anything too literary, although my exception to that rule is Alasdair Gray’s Lanark which I’m really enjoying. Thus all the fast reads and a few trashy books too. I’m finding lately that the smaller the font in a book, the less likely I’m inclined to get back to it lol

  3. I think Clint Eastwood should do a film version of “Jonah Hex”–that weathered, craggy face, the gunslinger forever damned. Forget “The Unforgiven”, this could be Clint’s masterpiece…

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