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review 2016-01-10 19:22
Hell's Bounty by Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale.
Hell's Bounty - John L. Lansdale,Joe R. Lansdale

Hell's Bounty is a riotous and sometimes tortuous weird west horror gambol by the brothers Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale.


We start with shadows and wingy things at the belfry, and a wooden box containing red lights burning hieroglyphic-like inscriptions.


Quill has put many a man in Boot Hill cemetery, and as it happens a solitary woman, he's our bad guy but he's not your average bad guy. He's possessed by something particularly nasty that wants to end the world as we know it.


'He hadn’t liked her singing, caterwauling was more like it. She had sounded like a cat with a stick up its ass. Even the horny miners and cowboys in the saloon applauded when she hit the floor. She was not only a terrible singer, she’d had a face that could drop a raccoon out of a tree at twenty paces.'


Our bad guy come good guy is short fused bounty hunter Smith, he rolls into Falling Rock and sets off an explosive chain of events courtesy of the stick of dynamite he carries in his belt.


What's the single most important, no hang on, vital consideration when throwing a stick of dynamite with the intention of blowing the bollocks out of something? Well, if it's got a short fuse, then throw that fucker quick. Unfortunately Smith doesn't heed that advice and his next port of call is a wheelbarrow of body bits in the bar of Hell's waiting room.


Smith's not done, in fact he's regurgitated and immediately needed back up on the ground floor by Satan himself, the bartender from hell, the dead are rising at that behest of something old and evil, and Smith is the chosen one to save the day.


I enjoyed the first part of Hell's Bounty, there was plenty of humour amidst the saloon patrons with some great characters like Payday and Double Shot as the story unfolded. The final battle sees the return of legends such as Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok and Quantrail to assist with the horde of the dead but I lost interest as the story gradually descended into an all-out action zombie killfest storyline. Silver disintegrates these dead folks and there seemed to be shed loads of it about, more common than dirt. All told started off good fun but ended up a touch repetitive with nothing that stood out.






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review 2015-12-30 20:56
With a Voice that is Often Still Confused But is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer by J.R. Hamantaschen
With a Voice that is Often Still Confused But is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer - J.R. Hamantaschen

With a Voice that is Often Still Confused But is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer by J.R. Hamantaschen is a bit of a mouthful of a title and I was expecting big things from this book which is probably an unfair way of approaching it. I've seen lots of positive things about With A Voice from friends and also from his first short story anthology You Shall Never Know Security.


My favourite story with a quite apt title was Soon Enough This Will Essentially Be a True Story about a goodreads reviewer who receives a free book from a local author, the author starts hounding for a review and things are turning nasty but I wasn't prepared for this nasty. A bestseller beckons but in bloody unlikely and brutal circumstances, after reading this you'll think twice before leaving a negative review, I guarantee it.


Another favourite was I’m A Good Person, I Mean Well and I Deserve Better, starting off with a pretty normal date between Robin and Bryce at the good old Deer and Fox, rudely interrupted by Bryce overcome with desperation for a trip to the white house to drop some visitors in. Embarrassment doesn't cover it and the clocks ticking, how long will she wait, gotta get off, help. No need to worry though, well, tell a lie, there's every need to worry at what's going down in the dining area. It's all gone mental, there's a strange bloke who's controlling all kinds of monsters and ripping people to shreds, monsters are referred to as minions but these ain't little yellow funny fuckers. These are demons but before and after the carnage is some consuming emotional shenanigans and a little toilet humour. I did enjoy this with the violently weirdish interlude that certainly changes tact.


'He wanted an adjustment to his face, something to scare the shit out of people right before he killed them — wanted his mouth to spread out like the wings of a manta ray, little suckers and teeth embedded into his checks. But he couldn’t will that, for some reason.'


I found With A Voice to be a bit of a mixed bag, for the most part the stories started off walking down Normal Avenue with intriguing characterisation, well written and sometimes delightful prose that deserves to be fully appreciated and absorbed. You're just getting used to what's occurring and thinking where it's going because there's considerable time spent on the setup when quite suddenly we turn off Normal Avenue and abruptly head down Weirdfuckingville Alley. Which is not a negative slant it's just something different to wrap your head around.


Now it's a good job there's an easy to use dictionary on kindle because I'd swear J.R. Hamantaschen is making sweet, sweet love to and then battering his thesaurus with his third leg because at times it was like showing off with I know some big words that you'll never understand kinda writing. Call me thick if you like but if you immediately know without looking what this lot means then congratulations you need a fucking life platitudinous, meretricious, Cognitive dissonance, solipsistic, stentorian, didactic tone and finally, enunciation inchoate. Joking aside do you ignore or interrupt the flow, I interrupted and just thought, why man?


So on the whole we've got some seriously weird, dark fiction that even now I'm still in two minds about, I can appreciate it but I don't think I'll ever truly love it. There's certainly brilliance here, a touch different maybe, the more I think back the more I like it, it just takes some assimilating and some smaller titles would be good.





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