The Best Of Joe R.Lansdale
Joe R. Lansdale

Tachyon Publications, March 2010
Trade Paperback, 384 pages, $15.95
Review by Shannon Riley

The Best of Joe R. Lansdale is a selective collection of sixteen of Lansdale’s over two-hundred stories that includes many of his most popular tales dating from 1982 to the present day. It is intended to acquaint the reader with the range of the author’s work in horror, mystery, fantasy and science fiction and a combination of genres and includes his acclaimed novella Bubba Ho-tep, and his story “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” both of which have been filmed. The award-winning Bubba Ho-tep is now a cult classic. The volume also includes the popular “Hell through a Windshield,” his non-fiction tribute to Joe Bob Briggs, drive-in theaters and low budget films.

The book contains a variety of outstanding tales. A few representative of the collection include the following.

Bubba Ho-tep is the hilarious tale of Elvis and John F. Kennedy as they fight to save themselves and their friends from a soul-sucking mummy at the Mud Creek Shady Grove Convalescence Home.

“Mad Dog Summer” is story of a young boy during the Depression, his little sister and the killer that terrorizes their small community. This coming of age story stays with the reader long after the end.

“Duck Hunt” is another coming of age story, this one darker and even more disturbing. The theme is the customs and expectations society lays upon the young that often shape their attitudes toward life and the extremes people sometimes go to to gain approval and acceptance.

In “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road,” Lansdale offers readers a heroine who is far more than what she seems. Pursued by a monstrous madman, Ellen calls upon her survival skills and leads readers toward a mind-blowing twist ending.

There is more at play beneath the surface than first appears in the often darkly humorous “White Mule, Spotted Pig.” This is a tale about a race, the hunt for the almost mythical white mule Frank hopes to ride to win, and the life-changing attitude he experiences during the course of events.

“On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” is a cross-genre tale about a bounty hunter and his captive and their life and death struggle against a sex-crazed cult of religious zombies led by a human monster far more sinister than his subjects. This is a story of greed and the lust for power and how religious extremism is sometimes used for evil intent.

“Fish Night” is primarily science fiction, but it is also a look at humanity’s beginnings and how the human race is connected to its past and to each other, good or bad.

“Night They Missed The Horror Show” is a shocking look at racism, sexism, and evil.

Most of Lansdale’s stories say more than they appear to on the surface and all are imbued with the author’s dark humor and individual style. Joe Lansdale is a masterful storyteller whose stories are uniquely his own. The Best of Joe R. Lansdale is a brilliant collection, a crash course in Lansdale weirdness for readers unfamiliar with his work and a mind-blowing bonanza all Lansdale fans will treasure.

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