Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bumper Crop, Joe R. Lansdale. Illinois: Golden Gryphon Press, 2004
Hardcover, $24.95 ISBN 1-930846-24-x

Following the best-of short story collection High Cotton, Joe R. Lansdale, collects more of his best short stories from the 80's in Bumper Crop, spanning the early career of one of the most underrated writers in America. Generally billed as "horror," these stories span a gamut of styles from old fashioned edge-of-your-seat thrillers such as; "God of the Razor," where a man encounters an other-worldly terror in the basement, to surreal portraits like, "Fish Night," where two men on a lonely road suddenly find themselves swimming in an ocean in the sky, or "Bestsellers Guaranteed," where even the least talented writer can have success...for a price. But these stories aren't your run of the mill horror. Don't forget, Joe R. Lansdale is the man who brought us Bubba Ho-Tep, the soon-to-be cult classic film portraying a not-quite-dead Elvis in his waning years in a nursing home in Mud Creek, side-by-side with a black JFK facing a hillbilly mummy.

Armed with Texas wit and an eye for telling detail, Lansdale plops us down into worlds filled with monsters and foolish men, vampire houses, and blood drinking aliens who just happen to hang out in bars. These stories are at turns funny, gripping and wry. Sometimes commenting on society, sometimes just scaring the hell out of you, but always effective. Each story is introduced by the author with a little background info on how the story came to be, why it came to be, where it was published, or not published, and whatever happens to be on Lansdale's mind about the story. These introductions are often nearly as entertaining as the stories themselves, and give us insight into the mind behind them.

Lansdale has written over twenty books, including the Leonard Pine and Hap Collins mystery series, and has received the Edgar award, American Mystery Award, two New York Times Notable Book awards, and others. He has published over two hundred short stories, and has written for comic books, animated televisions shows such as Batman, and the big screen.

-Originally published in Ghoti Magazine

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