June 23, 2011

Sanctified and Chicken Fried ***

*** The Portable Landsdale: Sanctified and Chicken Fried, Joe R. Lansdale, 2009

I'm only four books into his large body of work, but one thing is clear about Joe R. Lansdale. He's a brilliant writer. Vivid images, trenchant metaphors, visceral writing, penetrating characters, outrageous circumstances, sardonic humor.

I've read one title in the Hap and Leonard series, Mucho Mojo. It's well-paced, clever, touching, compelling. A Fine Dark Line is an excellent coming of age story.

Then there is Freezer Burn, where I documented some of his more clever constructions, and now Sanctified and Chicken Fried, a collection of shorter works.

All brilliantly written. So what's not to like?

The latter two books illustrate where Mr. Lansdale and I part ways. Perhaps my background, my childhood, sets me up to look for the better angels of our nature, to find hope or redemption. Whatever the case may be, stories that chronicle the depravity of man don't resonate with me. And in these last two books are impressively written stories that, for the most part, depict man at his worst, stories that seem say: This is what we are. This is what is.

I don't deny that such is the reality for some segments of the population. I have no way of knowing the percentages. Are there more like Joe or more like me? Don't know and it doesn't really matter. But I have to question how much time I want to spend dogpaddling in the muck, regardless of the brilliance.

I'll read the Lansdale books I have now and focus on the Hap and Leonard series and see where it takes me. Proceed at your own advisement. YMMV.

1 comment:

~k said...

Thanks for the warning