(Photo: Karen Lansdale)
TATTERED, YELLOWED, & CREASED is thrilled by the forthcoming SundanceTV show and by the existence of two new Hap and Leonard collections.
I’ve always thought the two oddball characters, plus Lansdale’s typical wit, would make for a great TV series—think Burn Notice gone redneck noir; now that such a series exists, Tachyon is releasing two collections of Hap and Leonard stories. These collect novellas and short stories that are a bit harder-to-find for the average consumer, from signed-and-numbered small press editions. I’m reviewing the paperback collection HAP AND LEONARD here; the other is an ebook, HAP AND LEONARD RIDE AGAIN, which features some of the same content with a handful of original stories, Lansdale interviewed by Rick Klaw, and an essay by Bill Crider.
Lansdale’s storytelling prowess comes in large part from his East Texas charm, profane wit, and strong characterization, with enough snappy dialogue to keep a smile on your face. The shades-of-gray world has a thick layer of grit over it, but Hap and Leonard are firmly “good guy” badasses you sympathize with and root for. While I know that novellas aren’t popular with everyone, Lansdale in particular excels at them, packing a complex plot and vivid action into under a hundred pages. “Hyenas” and “Dead Aim” are sleek reads, trimmed down to minimalist perfection; there’s not a word wasted in them, and they finish without that “but I wanted to read more” feeling that you might get from some short stories.
Stories like “The Boy Who Became Invisible” and “Not Our Kind” are a change of pace, dead serious and pretty powerful stuff without the emphasis wit or wordplay—this is Lansdale writing serious business. The first is a flashback from Hap’s childhood about a classmate named Jesse who was bullied incessantly, and—as happens too often in real life—sees even his friends like Hap desert him. He gets his revenge in the end, but it’s a hard-hitting tale that tugs at your heartstrings, and you can see how it could have influenced Hap’s later idealism. “Not Our Kind” is original to this collection, and it’s a tale of how Hap and Leonard first met in high school… needless to say, it’s also a tale about race and bullying, and overcoming the bigotry faced while growing up in 1960s East Texas. Fans ought to appreciate these the most, giving a lot of insight into the two characters by sharing important pieces of Hap’s history.
Joe Lansdale is one of the most unique and potent storytellers of our age; I’ve never seen him meet a genre whose ass he couldn’t kick, the narrative style and voice from any of his stories unmistakably Lansdale’s. The Hap and Leonard series takes a lot of crazy ideas, throws them together, and makes it all work; they’re excellent entertainment, edge-of-your-seat action one minute, gut-busting humor the next. Hap and Leonard consists of two excellent novellas, a half-dozen solid stories, and a few odds-and-ends. For newcomers, it works as a sampler plate for the novels and TV series, an excellent introduction to a gonzo crime series with lots of thrills and plenty of heart. For the fan, it’s nice to be able to read some great Hap and Leonard stories if you missed the collector’s-only editions that came before.
HORROR CORNER deviates from their norm with a review of the swamp noir collection.
Hap & Leonard are hilarious! I loved this collection of short stories which jumped all over the place from serious to sad, hilarious to depressing.
As someone new to Hap & Leonard, I found this collection to be a great way to get to know them. I was already planning to make this my year of Lansdale and this was my first book of his in 2016. After getting to know Hap and Leonard: Hap being a big redneck of a white man, (soon to be played by James Purefoy, previously of THE FOLLOWING), and Leonard being a big, black, gay man and Vietnam veteran, (soon to be played by Michael Kenneth Williams, formerly Chalky White of BOARDWALK EMPIRE), I don’t know how I can help myself from continuing on with this series-in both book and television form.
Highly recommended to fans of Joe Lansdale and to fans of great buddy stories, in general.
James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams as the titular characters in SundanceTV’s HAP AND LEONARD
At the RISINGSHADOW, Seregil of Rhiminee recommends the interesting and clever HAP AND LEONARD.
There’s a wonderful sense of pulp fiction in this collection. In my opinion, this collection is crime/pulp fiction at its best and most captivating, because the author has an eye for compelling details. It’s great that the author avoids trivial and meaningless things that have been the ruin of many crime stories.
The characterisation is well executed, because Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are not your normal kind of characters. They’re anything but normal, because they’re intriguingly flawed and imperfect as human beings, but they grow on you and you want to find out what happens to them and how they face problems.
The dialogues are interesting and offer wickedly clever entertainment to readers who enjoy sarcasm and irony. The author has add plenty of punch into the dialogues. He has also added a lot of amusing and witty humour to them.
It may come as a surprise for many readers that some of the dialogues contain hidden grains of wisdom and truth. Certain dialogues reflect the state of our modern society and our way of life in a surprisingly insightful and satirical way. It’s amazing how much depth and diversity you can find in this collection.
Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard is something different and intriguing for readers who appreciate well written stories that have plenty of punch and roughness. This collection will amuse and thrill you in equal measure and it will make you think about the happenings – what more could you possibly hope to find in this kind of fiction?
At end of THE DAILY LEBANON DAILY RECORD rave of the new Hap and Leonard novel HONKY TONK SAMURAI (”a hilarious and action-packed thrill ride”), Fines Massey included a brief review of HAP AND LEONARD.
If “Honky Tonk Samurai” isn’t enough for all us fans, Tachyon Publications will be releasing a collection of Hap and Leonard short stories and novellas, including a new story, simply titled “Hap and Leonard,” on March 1. The book is a must-have for any fan of the series, but also is a great starting point. The stories give a real taste for who Hap and Leonard are and how they came to be.
Joe Lansdale with Nick Damici
SUNDANCETV asks six questions of HAP AND LEONARD Executive Producer Nick Damici.
Q: What is it about “Hap and Leonard” that excites you?
A: Joe Lansdale is a master of genre mixing, which is what I think Jim and I actually have done in our movies. That’s what appealed to us. HAP AND LEONARD is basically a buddy movie, and each book has a different genre, so that was very exciting. The first book is Savage Season and is like a caper movie, buried treasure and stuff like that. As the books go on, there is mystery, there are Western themes, but it is always with these two characters.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of bringing a book to the screen?
A: For me, personally, it was the way in which the books are written through Hap. It’s his perspective, and it is always a tricky thing to make a screen adaptation of a story told through the first person. That was the most difficult thing, taking this story that is all seen through one guy’s eyes and opening it up to the other characters. However, once we started, then all the pieces began to fall into place.
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