Both THINGS GET UGLY: THE BEST CRIME STORIES OF JOE R. LANSDALE and the author his ownself are some of the best of 2023

THINGS GET UGLY: THE BEST CRIME STORIES OF JOE R. LANSDALE continues to get acclaim with a best of the year nod (without comment) from Craig Zablo and a praising review at Behind Blue Eyes. At Dayton Daily News, Vick Mickunas cites Joe R. Lansdale among his favorite interviews of the year. Lansdale remembers the late Howard Waldrop with the Texas Standard.

Things Get Ugly, cover by John Coulthart
Design by John Coulthart

Joe R. Lansdale knows how to craft a story, with an instinctive grasp of character development. His language is such that he connects with readers and makes the task of reading an enjoyable escape.

While all of the stories in this book fall into the “crime” category, this is a very loose grouping. There is such a mixed bag of offerings here, from the noir to the really freaking weird. As with most collections, some stories hit with me better than others, but there really aren’t any duds here

Behind Blue Eyes

Joe R. Lansdale has written a slew of terrific books. I interviewed him years ago-things didn’t go well. He was on a film set talking on a cell phone – it kept cutting out. You could hear noisy people in the background. He sounded distracted. Well, he had a new story collection out, THINGS GET UGLY: THE BEST CRIME STORIES OF JOE R. LANSDALE, so we tried it again. This time around he was relaxed and completely charming, telling yarns about how he became a writer. He made a superb guest.

Vick Mickunas
Jeff via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Science fiction writer Howard Waldrop, who died this week, was popular with fans and other writers for his stories of the natural world, alternative history, and of Texas, his adopted home state.

Texas Standard: Howard Waldrop was known as a science fiction writer, but I’m wondering if you can tell us more about what that means in his specific case. What sort of stories interested him as a writer?

Joe Lansdale: I think he was more of a speculative fiction writer. I mean, he wasn’t doing hard science. What he liked to do was take two things that did not seem to fit together and turn them into a story, or take ideas that were somewhat outre and make them seem very natural.

One of them being like “The Ugly Chickens,” where an anthropologist discovers that dodos are still alive. And I won’t ruin the story for anybody, but it’s just little things like that he would jump off of. Or where you have an alternate history where [former president Dwight] Eisenhower worked in a swing band. And things like that.

So he was a very interesting writer. And I adapted one of his stories, actually, to a film, called “Night of the Cooters,” which took “The War of the Worlds” from H.G. Wells and put it out in West Texas.

Texas Standard