With the new SundanceTV show flashing across televisions and computer screens, Joe R. Lansdale’s HAP AND LEONARD is receiving a lot of attention with reviews and even a second printing.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY awards the collection a starred review.
Last seen in the novel HONKY TONK SAMURAI, Lansdale’s incomparable East Texas crime fighting duo show their chops in this remarkable story collection. Hap Collins, a straight, white liberal, and Leonard Pine, a black, gay conservative, have long challenged genre conventions, and the friendship and camaraderie between these two hard cases as they suit up against injustice and hypocrisy is at the heart of these seven tales.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY interviewed Lansdale about the origins of Hap and Leonard.
Lansdale admits he based Hap Collins on himself, and the pair certainly share a good deal in common, including a working-class East Texas background. “We were poor,” he says. “My father, he couldn’t read or write. In his youth, he hoboed, stole his way on the train and went to different towns, and boxed and wrestled, and made money doing that.” Lasndale initially dreamed up Leonard as a more traditional sparring partner for Hap. Then, “as I was writing it, Leonard revealed he was gay,” says the novelist. “I was as surprised as everybody else. But I knew: This is right! T>here were a lot of bad things happening to gays in Texas at that time, a lot of homophobia and people in the law enforcement thinking, Yeah, that’s justified, they’re not the same as us. That character grew out of a certain anger I had.”
(photo: Karen Lansdale)
When Lansdale was growing up, his imagination was fired by the books of Robert Bloch and Raymond Chandler. While trying to make his way as a writer, he held an array of low-paying jobs — many of which appear on Hap’s résumé, too. “I worked in rose fields, and I worked in potato fields,” he says. “I did some bouncing. I was a janitor for years at the university where I am now writer-in-residence [Stephen F. Austin -State University, in Nacogdoches, Tex.]. I never got a degree, I just started writing.” Like Collins, Lansdale also refused to fight in the Vietnam War, although — unlike his fictional hero — he was spared jail time for his stance after a psychiatrist found him unfit for service. “I think because it was near the winding-down of the war, they may have thrown me a bone,” he says. “They may have thought I was crazy. All I know is, I went home.”
Following the failure of that first Hap and Leonard book, Lansdale began writing a novel that didn’t feature the duo. The problem? “Hap just would not quit talking to me,” Lansdale says. “I had been working on another book, and it wasn’t working as well as I had hoped. It was called MUCHO MOJO. I stole the title and said, ‘I’m just going to let Hap talk to me.’ And he did.” Published in 1994, MUCHO MOJO ended up on the NEW YORK TIMES’ Notable Books of the Year list.
DANGEROUS DAN’S BOOK BLOG reviewed both HAP AND LEONARD and it’s ebook companion HAP AND LEONARD RIDE AGAIN. Dan gives each collection a 4/5 and reviews ever story in the collections.
Introduction by Michael Kortya: I’m always interested in what one writer writes about another. Kortya echoes my feelings on Hap and Leonard and Joe Lansdale in general. He also refrains from spoiling the shit out of stories, which is growing increasingly rare in introductions.
Hyenas: After Leonard kicks the shit out of a trio of guys at a bar, one of them offers him a job. Can Hap and Leonard get the man’s kid brother away from the bad crowd he’s running with?
I could cheat and do a cut and paste job from my review of Hyenas but I won’t. Hyenas is a novella length distillation of what Hap and Leonard books are normally like. Much like last time, my favorite line was “Brett thought it would be cute if we got matching guns with our initials on them."
Bent Twig: Brett’s daughter is into drugs and hooking again and Hap goes looking for her.
Bent Twig is a tale of loyalty, both of Hap for Brett and Leonard toward Hap. The boys get into the usual shit storm, complete with jokes, and things are very satisfying.
Joe R. Lansdale Interviews Hap Collins and Leonard Pine: Lansdale interviews the dynamic duo. It’s short, funny, and has the all too true line "It’s the family you choose that counts.”
A Bone Dead Sadness: Marvin Hanson takes on a case 25 years cold so a dying widow can find out what happened to her son.
A Bone Dead Sadness is kind of a locked room mystery featuring Marvin Hanson. Hap and Leonard are absent but mentioned a few times.
Not Our Kind: This tale chronicled an early encounter featuring a teenage Hap and Leonard and some bullies. The guys were cracking wise but things didn’t go as they usually do.
The Oak and the Pond: Hap tells the story of what happened to the Robin Hood Tree, a tree mentioned in several of the early Hap and Leonard books.
The Boy Who Became Invisible: Hap recounts a tale of his youth, the tale of the boy everyone picked on.
The Boy Who Became Invisible is a powerful tale because it’s all too believable and very relatable. I remembered the ending but it still hit pretty hard. This particular version of The Boy Who Became Invisible is in screenplay format.
Marc Buxton at DEN OF GEEK! supplied A Reader’s Guide to Joe Lansdale. Not only did the list contain SAVAGE SEASON, the first Hap and Leonard tale, but other great Lansdale selections.
Dead in the West (1986)
You like zombies, right? Who doesn’t these days?
But years before The Walking Dead slammed ornery walkers into a rural Southern setting, Joe Lansdale did it in Dead in the West. This horror western features a recently murdered Indian medicine man whose vengeance raises a whole passel of angry dead Indians. Standing in their way is recurring Lansdale hero Reverend Jebediah Mercer who is the only thing between a peaceful town and undead Western Zombie vengeance.
It is just as chaotic and unflinching as it sounds and let me tell you, Mercer makes Rick Grimes look like Rick Astley.
Currently available in DEADMAN’S ROAD.
Zeppelins West (2001)
The first part of the Ned the Seal series and yeah you read that right, Zeppelins Westis a genre mash up for the ages. It’s like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen without all that dang fluffery. This yarn of yarns sees Wild Bill Hickok, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, Captain Bemo (and his ship the Naughty Lass named such cause it was a bitch to build), Buffalo Bill Cody (he’s exactly like the traditional portrayal of Buffalo Bill Cody excepting his head is kept alive in a jar of pig urine), the Tin Man from Oz, and Frankenstein’s Monster form a team of adventurers and get into all sorts of unbelievable scrapes. Rounding out the team is Ned the Seal, a fez wearing seal who is as brave as he is adorable.
There have been three of these unspeakably awesome books published so far with the fourth, The Sky Done Ripped, expected at some point. This a genre bending romp seasoned with that old Lansdale hickory BBQ sauce and no reader will soon forget it. The Tin Man and Frankenstein, I tell you!
Currently available in FLAMING
ZEPPELINS: THE ADVENTURES OF NED THE SEAL.
For more info on HAP AND LEONARD, visit the Tachyon page.
For more info about HAP AND LEONARD RIDE AGAIN, visit the Tachyon page.
Covers by Elizabeth Story
For more information on FLAMING
ZEPPELINS: THE ADVENTURES OF NED THE SEAL, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by John Coulthart
For more information on DEADMAN’S ROAD, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art “The Quick and the Undead” by Travis J. Elston.
Design by Elizabeth Story