Ever had one of those “Where ya been all my life?” moments with a writer? I’m going through that now with Joe R. Lansdale. I can’t BELIEVE it’s taken me this long to discover him. Amazing stuff. I first looked him up after I saw the movie “Bubba Ho-Tep.” That movie, if you’ve never heard of it, stars Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis playing — respectively — Elvis and JFK. They’re both living in a rest home, fighting an Egyptian mummy.
When I heard about it, I thought it sounded hilarious. And it was. But what struck me when I watched it was how poignant it was, too. It took that batshit insane premise, and turned it into both a fun adventure story and a bittersweet meditation on aging.
Turns out it was based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale. And he has quite a body of work, which I look forward to reading. I already read “Savage Season,” the first of his “Hap and Leonard” series. I went through that in a day. I just couldn’t put it down.
Now I’m reading his short-story collection “Mad Dog Summer.” Man! It’s not just that he knows how to put together a story. The son-of-a-bitch can write! Check out this first sentence from his short story “The Big Blow.” If it doesn’t make you want to read on, check your pulse.
“On an afternoon hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock, John McBride, six-foot one-and-a-half inches, 220 pounds, ham-handed, built like a wild boar and of similar disposition, arrived by ferry from mainland Texas to Galveston Island, a six-gun under his coat and a razor in his shoe.”