Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale

The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale

Paperback, 336 pages

Published September 1st 2001 by Mysterious Press (first published January 1st 2000) ISBN13: 9780446677929

Macavity Award Nominee for Best Mystery Novel (2001), Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel (2001), Hammett Prize Nominee (2000), Edgar Award for Best Novel (2001)

The Bottoms is one of those novels I have been saving for the right time. Joe R. Lansdale is one of my favorite writers best known for his series Hap and Leonard and the Movie Bubba-Ho-Tep based on his short story. If you are not familiar with Lansdale he is a master story-teller who grew up in east texas. He writes some southern gothic, some horror but really Lansdale is just Lansdale an effective story teller who normally makes me laugh a lot in the time I am reading his work.

The reason I decided now was the time to read this novel was the news that a film of the Bottoms was on the way. Not only that but it will be written and directed by the team that made Frailty. That movie was the best horror movie of the year it came out and also a serial Killer story set in Texas.

The Bottoms is less horror and more mystery than Frailty but I see now this is a perfect fit. The novel has it’s horror elements including the legend of the Goat Man who provides many moments for Lansdale to show his horror chops. That said this a mystery set against the rural poverty of east Texas in the depression.

I am not a fan of first person narrative, but Lansdale being a master pulls it off to the point of being invisible most of the book. You forget at times this is a story being told by a man in an old folks home. The story works on many levels, as a mystery, an exploration of racism, A coming of age story and the unintended truths uncovered by a mystery.

Is it the most fun I have had reading Lansdale? Probably not I laugh a lot reading Hap and Leonard novels but this is the best Lansdale I’ve read. This is modern classic and a must read novel.

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