markgunnells (markgunnells) wrote,

A Love Letter to Joe R. Lansdale

 I'm an avid reader, and the list of authors whose talents I admire is too long to post.  However, there is one author above all others that really gets me.  A man of whom I am very much in awe.  I don't like to use the word "idol", but it would be close here.  And that writer is Joe R. Lansdale.

Some of you may be saying, Who's that?  And if you are, that makes me sad.  The man's talents are so immense that he really should be a household name in my opinion.  His books never fail to impress and thrill me, and I'll give a few reasons why I am such a fan.

One, simplicity.  The man's language can be so lean and yet convey so much.  He doesn't have to do a lot of literary acrobatics to get his point across, but can say so much with such economy of words.  It is something I aspire to.

Two, dialogue.  I'm a sticker for good dialogue, and Lansdale knows how to do it.  His characters talk in a way that is witty and fun but also believable and authentic.

Three, darkness of character.  But not just of the villains.  He isn't afraid to infuse his protagonists with darkness too.  They aren't all saintly and virtuous, but a mixture of good and bad, just like real people.

Four, diversity.  The man does westerns, mystery, horror, and a great deal of fiction that defies category.  I think that hurts him in some ways, since the industry (and many readers) like writers who are predictable, where they know what they're getting going in.  That isn't Lansdale, and I love him for it.  He is also equally adept at short stories, as well as novels and novellas.

The man is a genuis, in my humble opinion, and I hope in time he gets the respect and recognition he deserves. 

If any of you are interested in giving him a try, I suggest A Fine Dark Line or The Bottoms (my two favorites), or Sunset and Sawdust which I think is criminally underrated.  Lost Echoes is a great "starter" book.  Pick any short story collection and you won't be disappointed.  Just get out there and start buying and reading Lansdale.

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