A remarkable study of friendship, Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE is home cooked comfort food for the mind
More love for Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE – HAP AND LEONARD: THE EARLY YEARS.
At GRIMDARK MAGAZINE, Chris Haught praises the book.
This book is a remarkable study of friendship, as Hap and Leonard are faced with several challenges of their times and geographic setting. The late 1960s were a time of Vietnam, racism, and the old South good ole boy system where women were treated as property. Hap and Leonard weren’t defined by these issues, however, and had a strong sense of right and wrong which motivated their decisions.
I was actually born in the southern part of the East Texas region where these stories are set, and though my family moved away when I was quite young, I remember several occasions where we went back to visit family. These stories struck home for me and stirred up some of these memories. Starting out the collection with “The Kitchen” brought back those experiences of the family gatherings, and the food we had. This was a great way to settle in and get comfortable, before striking out with Hap and Leonard to face the challenges presented by the other stories in the book.
An extra bonus to these stories is the section at the back of the book, where recipes are included of the main foods experienced in the stories themselves. This section was written by Lansdale’s daughter Kasey, and she did a great job of providing entertaining recipe notes in Hap’s narrative voice. This was a great addition to the stories, giving them a little extra flavor. My arteries might just have hardened a little bit after reading these…
KLTV interviews Lansdale about the book and racism.
The Nacogdoches-based author said the response to his new book has been phenomenal.
Lansdale said in the interview that one of the things he hates the most is racism. He explained that he saw it first-hand growing up in a small East Texas town.
He said he can remember a time when there were separate water fountains for white and black people. Once, when he went to the movies with his mother, he noticed that there was a separate line for black people, who had to sit in the movie theater’s balcony. If they had to go to the bathroom, they had to leave the theater and go across the street.
“My mom told me, ‘It’s not right. I can’t explain it, but it won’t always be this way,’” Lansdale said.
Lansdale added that treating people unfairly because of the color of their skin has always struck him as wrong. However, the Nacogdoches-based author said that the people who want to ban books like “Huck Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” are missing the point.
“I feel human guilt over racism, but I don’t necessarily feel white guilt,” Lansdale said. “However, the struggle is real.”