I have been meaning to read Joe Lansdale for ages. Ever since The Bottoms came out in 2000, which my Dad begged me to read. Having finally gotten around to reading his latest book I am of course kicking myself for waiting so long. I am a sucker for a good Western and a massive fan of Deadwood so when I saw that Joe Lansdale’s new book was partly set in Deadwood I was in.
The hero of the story is Nat Love (aka Deadwood Dick), loosely based on the real person of the same name. Nat is an ex-Slave in East Texas who we first meet journeying in to town to fetch supplies for his father’s farm. The Civil War maybe over but racism is alive and well, further fuelled by resentment over the outcomes of the war. After innocently admiring a white woman Nat finds himself on the run from a lynch mob. After initially eluding his pursuers Nat finds he must remain constantly on the move which sees him become a soldier, a bouncer, a US Marshall and star of a series of dime novels. Along the way he meets Wild Bill Hickok, Apaches and his fair share of good, bad and ugly. All the while his past is on his trail or he is seeking it out for revenge.
Lansdale’s writing is brilliant. He expertly brings Nat’s voice to life and reminds me a lot of some of Elmore Leonard’s early westerns. Landsdale expertly balances dark humour with bloody violence and covers all the tropes of a good western but in an original and inventive way. The West is presented warts and all, like it should be. Life is hard, uncompromising and unfair. There is no glamour and being African-American Nat’s life is even harder than it should be with racism and prejudice in ample supply wherever he goes.
I’ll be pulling The Bottoms off my shelf and adding it to my ‘To Be Read’ pile immediately and making sure I get my hands on as many of Joe Lansdale books as possible. A writer I am ashamed to have missed for so long but now excited to get stuck into.
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Classification: Fiction & related items » Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
(332mm x 206mm x 31mm)
Imprint: Mulholland Books
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Publish Date: 18-Jun-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom