HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE offers an unfortunate resonance to contemporary times
At BOOKGASM, Alan Cranis praises Joe R. Lansdale’s HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE.
The relationship of these two young outsiders grows with each passing year, to where they eventually think of each other more as brothers than mere friends. There are many challenges to their early friendship, as exemplified in “Not Our Kind,” a story that appeared in the earlier HAP AND LEONARD collection but is well worth reading again in the context of these other formative stories.
Several stories take the form of a recollection, spurred by a memory that comes up in conversation or by the duo’s drive through Marvel Creek, the town where Hap grew up. So Hap recalls his poor upbringing and the lessons he picked up along the way, either by experience or taught by his stern but quietly compassionate father. Then there are the various other children Hap encounters at school, including the unsettling account of “The Boy Who Became Invisible,” with its unfortunate resonance to contemporary times.
Leonard doesn’t appear in all the stories gathered here, but his presence is felt throughout. This is strengthened by the underlying theme of racism that permeates several of the stories. The setting is the rural south in the early 1960s, before the hard-fought victories of equality, when blacks were tolerated most diplomatically as “coloreds,” and racism was as common a household trait as church on Sunday. Leonard shoulders the additional burden of homosexuality – a trait not often discussed in those days and quickly dismissed as being “a queer.”
“The Early Days” might have been the fitting subtitle to this latest addition to the Hap and Leonard cannon. But Lansdale wisely chose instead “Blood And Lemonade,” the title of one of the stories as well as an oddly appropriate description of the memories that it contains.
Andrew Andrews of TRUE REVIEW enjoys many of the stories.
Like Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles,” Lansdale has written this mosaic novel – interconnected short stories that meld into a gestalted, arching storyline – that details the very segmented and disjointed way that Hap and Leonard, friends just trying to stay out of trouble, met.
Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, blue-collar souls trying to stay behind the law, when they can, make a motley bunch, to say the least.
There are many recollections of Hap and Leonard’s past throughout the mosaic novel.
One is “The Boy Who Became Invisible,” about Jesse, a poor schoolboy, who only became what hate-filled and judgmental people at the school would make him be.
Here’s a tale of Hap as a kid: “Blood and Lemonade.” In this, an abandoned black boy is taken in by Hap’s Mama. The poor kid literally has no place to go. But Mama is persistent and takes him to his family, where Hap learns about the violently dark racism in East Texas and how the hatred runs both ways.
Another dark recollection of the friendship of Hap and Leonard is the grisly and frightening “In the River of the Dead.” Hap and Leonard encounter some fishing problems on the dark river, and somehow uncover a sunken boat with bodies of a murdered family. Apparently Hap and Leonard have stumbled into a drug-deal-gone-wrong crime scene. For the friends, escape is possible, but there seems to be no escaping the rampant racism and psychopathic behavior of the perpetrators.
The violent and pervasive ugliness of the Deep South rears its ugly head again in a memory Hap has while driving to a burger joint, as a teenager, in “Stopping for Coffee.” This memory only haunts him because of what he should have done, or at least tried to do, to stave off senseless violence.
“Apollo Red” details how Hap remembers how his dad, a mechanic, encounters and stands up to a bully.
Photo: Karen Lansdale
VICE MEETS interviews Michael K. Williams.
On this episode of VICE Meets, we caught up with actor Michael K. Williams for an inside scoop on his role in Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo, a murder mystery set in East Texas in the late 80s. Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo is set to debut on SundanceTV Wednesday, March 15.
Williams—who’s notorious for playing underworld badasses on shows like The Wire and Boardwalk Empire and who hosts Black Market, VICELAND’s series about underground economies—said he drew from his experiences with the LGBTQ community while playing Leonard Pine, a gay Vietnam veteran. Growing up in Brooklyn, Williams said he was mentored by a gay woman who “toughened him up” and introduced him to the area’s larger LGBTQ community.
“This is my homage to the [LGBTQ] community, because that community has always embraced me, never judged me,” Williams told VICE.
The Italian site WHY SO SERIAL? reviews the first season of SundanceTV’s HAP AND LEONARD while contrasting it with its source material SAVAGE SEASON (A SEASON WILD in Italian).
The series, which adapted the first novel “A Season Wild” in six episodes, lacks quell’imprevedibilità which is typical of Lansdale novel, which causes our heroes wield crossbows, pans, chairs, tables and anything else to defeat the villain with the biggest gun or more overt racism. Violent scenes are not lacking, and make perfectly human cruelty and crudeness to its lowest step. The series also sees an extraordinary woman by their side, Christina Hendricks , in the shoes of the former wife of Hap, in trouble with another hippie crowds of their old days. She is to recruit them for a mission that seems bullshit: recover the money ended up in the bottom of a lake. Too bad that not everyone has the loyalty of honor that our heroes and, at their expense, will find themselves in yet another spiral of trouble.
It is to see the structure of the characters, the deep friendship that can tie two such men and how yet another woman can get them into trouble (and it was only the first: D). And last, but not least, because it is Lansdale Lansdale and even a fistfight in my hiding deep social meanings (I am not entirely ironic). Already renewed for the following season, with the adaptation of “Mucho Mojo”, we trust in the wisdom of the writers not only for the “veracity” of the characters but also for violence. It Lansdale, damn!
Translation form Italian courtesy of Google.
For more info about HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Elizabeth Story
For more info on HAP AND LEONARD, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Elizabeth Story