Easy to recommend to a newcomer or a fan of Hap and Leonard, Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE is laden with the irresistible combination of relaxed badinage and playful threats
Though not due out until April, praise for Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE garners a lot of praise.
KIRKUS enjoys the collection.
The dialogue throughout is worth the price of admission, not as stylized as Elmore Leonard’s but laden with the same irresistible combination of relaxed badinage and playful threats that sometimes spiral into serious consequences while still remaining playful.
The 17 down-home recipes contributed by Lansdale’s daughter, Kasey, many of them as chatty as the stories, are a bonus.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY feels much the same.
Full of humor, gritty drama, and insightful observations, the five stories in this rewarding collection from Edgar winner Lansdale (The Elephant of Surprise) concentrate on the early years of his two mismatched East Texas private eyes: Hap Collins, a straight, white liberal; and Leonard Pine, a gay, black conservative. Lansdale packs a punch in the standout “Sparring Partner,” in which the pair, as high schoolers, are hired by a ruthless boxing manager to train a weakling college kid and a giant named Man Slayer.
GREEN MAN REVIEW further agrees.
Overall this collection was an excellent piece of regional fiction, focusing on character while reflecting the times and difficulties very well. Like any collection of short stories there are stronger and weaker pieces. However, even the weakest in this collection is worth reading. While the initial stories only feature one of the leads, all help to paint a clear picture of the pair as human beings. These stories evoke the likes of Elmore Leonard, and manage to feel so reflective that one can almost taste the food. Easy to recommend to a newcomer or a fan of Hap and Leonard as a whole.
T. Fox Dunham and Phil Thomas in WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? (133) podcast include Joe R. Lansdale as one of the Best Haunts of 2019.
For TEXAS HIGHWAYS, Lansdale wrote an essay about his hometown: “A Fresh and New Gladewater Emerges from Its Honky Tonk Past.”
Some say that deep in the East Texas woods, where the muddy Sabine River flows, there dwells a creature called the Goat Man. This furry, hoofed denizen of the dark woods lives under a swinging bridge, where he sates his taste for human flesh on unsuspecting passersby.
Or so went the legend when I was young, and perhaps that legend has played out now. Kids run the river and woods less, and spend minimal time beneath the swaying shadows of the pines and hardwood trees that once grew thick for miles. Stories grow not only out of the available environment, but also the use of the environment, so perhaps due to the lack of attention to the Goat Man’s world, he has ceased to exist.
Almost as mythical are the things that happened decades ago near the Sabine, where the long-gone Mint Club stood, its walls vibrating to a sound that pulsed with what some would have described then as primal wails and lustful howls. A sound condemned by churches and do-gooders far and wide, but ultimately adored by the masses. If it was indeed devil music, then the devil got his due.
The voices that squealed and roared over the airwaves of the defunct Gladewater radio station KSIJ 1430 were memorialized in wax, the singular method of the time. But the experience of hearing something that was unlike anything that had come before, in real time, has gone the way of the Goat Man.
In the 1950s, the Mint Club was referred to as the Gun and Knife Club. Back then, famous KSIJ disc jockey Tom Perryman said it was the kind of place “that if you didn’t have a gun or knife, they’d give you one at the door.”
Where the Mint Club stood there is now nothing more than a cement foundation and distant memories. The Mint was among the many rough-and-tumble honky-tonks that lined the highway outside the boundaries of Gladewater, not far from the Sabine River bridge, on what was called Hell’s Half Mile. Out there, come night time, music was played and drunks were fueled. Those joints seemed like permanent establishments when I was young, but they have all gone the way of the dodo, phew, along with knifings, shootings, and midnight brawls.