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The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale

 

 

 



Review

Joe Lansdale, author of several horror novels, Westerns, and some outrageous thrillers, is something of a cult writer. The Bottoms, which may be the breakout book thatmoves Lansdale beyond the genre category, is a resonant and moving novel. Though there is a mystery at its core, it is at heart a coming-of-age story, with a more literary bent than Lansdale usually demonstrates.When young Harry Collins finds the mutilated body of a black woman bound to a tree with barbed wire, he and his younger sister suspect the legendary Goat Man, who is said to lurk under the swinging bridge crossing Texas’s Sabine River. The creature holds the key to a string of brutal murders–and a chilling truth. A “New York Times” Notable Book of the Year”.

The main protagonist Harry Crane takes us back to his youth to the time of the 1930’s. He tells of his growing up in the family farm in the Bottoms, of their struggles during the great Depression and the grizzly murdered women that they discover in the Bottoms. He tells of his wonders of his youth and his delight in learning of those around him during his coming of age, of his quest and mystery in search of the identity of The Goat Man. His poor Dog Toby a limp but courageous dog that you’ll never forget and his equally brave and lovely sister Tom. That loving kind ma and his grandma really a character to remember his father a stand up righteous kind of guy, a tough law man that wishes to see beyond skin colour. They faces problems with K.K.K members in the search for the murderer. As the story progresses more peoples true colours start to show. The Bottoms be a place you would love and hate to live, mark my words it sure is a place and a story to remember of as long as you live. It pays homage to the great novel To Kill a Mockingbird, has everything that story stood for and leaves the reader with a similar awe.
Well deserved of the Edgar Award.
This story is just as good as his new novel Edge of Dark Water also taken place during the depression era with equally wonderful and memorable characters.
The story is presented before you in easy flowing storytelling way, a poignant tale of human endeavour against odds, yet another Joe Lansdale great story with wonderful prose. A joy to read full of heart and horrors, a fully immersive reading of a great story.

Once completing this story you would be in regret due to no longer being in company with these characters just as the main protagonist mentions in his recollections…
“Each time i visit now, close my eyes to go there, i hope when i awake i will no longer be of this world, but one where Mama and Daddy, Tom and Grandma, perhaps even Mose and the Goat Man, and of course good old Toby, will be waiting for me.”

Watch out for a movie adaptation that is going to be released, this would be a really good movie especially starring with Bill Paxton as an actor.

 

Excerpts

 

“Just a short time before I had been a happy kid with no worries. I didn’t even know it was the Depression, let alone there were murderers outside of the magazines I read down at the barbershop, and none f the magazines I read had to do with killers who did this kind of thing. And Daddy, though a good man, sincere and true, if briefly distracted, was no Doc Savage.
In the detective magazines the cops and private eyes saw a clue two, they put it together. Cracked the whole case wide open. In real life, there were clues a plenty, but instead of cracking the case open, they just made it all the more confusing.”

“Daddy was often chastised by certain church-minded folks for keeping pulps handy at the barbershop. But as my Dad always explained about racy covers, it’s just a little paint, folks. Nobody’s naked.”

“Another thing different then was you learned about things like dying when you were quite young. It couldn’t be helped. You raised and killed chickens and hogs, hunted and fished, so you were constantly up against it. That being the case, I think we respected life more than some do now, and useless suffering was not to be tolerated.”


 

About Joe R. Lansdale

 

Joe R. Lansdale is probably the only person in the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame who has received the Edgar, ten Stokers, the Raymond Chandler, the British Fantasy, the Spur, the Golden Lion, the Grinzane Cavour Prize, the Herodotus, and the Inkpot Awards. Lansdale has also been designated as a Grandmaster of Horror by the World Horror Association. His acclaimed works have landed him in the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and the Texas Institute of Letters.

Lansdale’s extraordinary output includes mysteries, Westerns, horror, pulp fiction, science fiction, and thrillers. He has written more than 40 novels, 400 shorter works, numerous comic books, and a handful of screenplays as well as creating the Shen Chuan Martial Science. His novels include Dead in the West (1986), The Magic Wagon (1986), The Nightrunners (1987), The Drive-In (1988), Cold in July (1989), the Edgar Award–winning The Bottoms (2000), A Fine Dark Line (2002), Flaming Zeppelins (2010), The Thicket (2013), the Spur Award–winning Paradise Sky (2015), More Better Deals (2020), Moon Lake (2021), and The Donut Legion (2023). Beginning with By Bizarre Hands (1989), Lansdale’s short stories have been collected in several volumes, including The Best of Joe R. Lansdale (2010), Terror Is Our Business (2018, with Kasey Lansdale), Things Get Ugly (2023), and The Senior Girls Bayonet Drill Team and Other Stories (2024). He has edited fifteen anthologies, including Dark at Heart (1992, with Karen Lansdale), Weird Business (1995, with Richard Klaw), Retro Pulp Tales (2006), Crucified Dreams (2011), and The Urban Fantasy Anthology (2011, with Peter S. Beagle).

Lansdale’s most famous creation is the unlikely duo of Hap and Leonard. Hap Collins is white, liberal, and even-tempered. Leonard Pine, who is quick to anger, is Black, conservative, and gay. In a series of 14 novels, spanning Savage Season (1990) through Sugar on the Bones (2024), and several novellas and short stories, the best friends encounter violence, racism, and adventure in their East Texas haunts. The often-humorous tales have garnered much praise and a legion of devoted fans. Many of the Hap and Leonard novellas and shorter tales are collected in Veil’s Visit (1999), Hap and Leonard (2016), Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade (2018), Of Mice and Minestrone (2020), and Born for Trouble (2021). For three seasons, the pair were featured on the television series Hap and Leonard (2016–18), starring James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams.

Lansdale’s works that have been adapted for film treatments include Bubba Ho-Tep and Cold in July; “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” for Masters of Horror; “The Dump,” “Fish Night,” and “The Tall Grass,” for the Netflix series Love, Death & Robots; “The Companion” for Creepshow; and Christmas with the Dead, which Lansdale produced with a screenplay by his son, Keith. He has written many screenplays and teleplays, including episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. He has also written graphic novels for DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, and others. The documentary All Hail the Popcorn King explores the enduring legacy of Lansdale and his creations.

Lansdale also possesses multiple black belts, and he is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System.

Joe R. Lansdale lives with his wife, Karen, in Nacogdoches, Texas.

 




 

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