A trio of fresh reviews for Joe R. Lansdale’s HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE plus an important announcement.
Charles de Lint in the May/June 2017 FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION loves the mosaic novel.
It’s easy to assume that the stories in this collection are culled from Lansdale’s own memories, or stories he heard growing up, and while that might well be the case, Lansdale’s too good a writer, with a huge imagination, for us to simply accept that assumption.
What we can be assured of is that he knew people like this, knew the setting intimately, and if I’ve given the impression that these stories are all sunshine and light, I need to tell you that there are also dark and brutal moments. Which is basically true of most rural and semi-rural life in that time period, and not only in East Texas. It was certainly true where I grew up.
If you know the titular characters, you’ll find this a treasure trove of material. It tells how the pair first met up and the early days of their friendship, relates stories of Hap’s father, and ties it all together with scenes from their present-day lives. If you don’t know them, it’s a great introduction.
I’m a little biased when it comes to Lansdale’s work. He’s one of the great treasures of American fiction, and I have no doubt that when the dust settles years from now, he’ll still be considered such.
I love an original voice in the fiction I read, and they don’t come much more original than this. If you have the chance to go to a reading of his, don’t miss it. It’s the same as going to one of Neil Gaiman’s readings. Once you hear them speak, you’ll forever hear that voice in your head when you’re back home reading their work, and trust me, that’s a good thing.
Photo: Karen Lansdale
TZER ISLAND praises the book.
The best stories are about tolerance, an American value that has always been in short supply in much of America. The title story, “Blood and Lemonade,” is about perceptions of race in Texas during Hap’s childhood. As Leonard says at a couple of different points in the book, things have changed, but not enough. The story teaches a profound lesson about taking the good with the bad, and not allowing the bad to taint the good.
All of the stories are solid contributions to Hap and Leonard lore, but they are also solid stories of the kind that Joe Lansdale does so well.
MEN READING BOOKS enjoys their introduction to Hap and Leonard.
We see Hap and Leonard headed across town for some ice cream. The sight of a boarded up store triggers a memory. They cross railroad tracks to ‘the other side of town’ and another story pops up. They sit on the porch of Hap’s home with Hap’s family and the wife, son, and daughter each prod one of the two to weave a tale from back in the day. Each chapter is its own story and need not be read in order.
Not all the stories are of Hap and Leonard. Plenty are about one or the other. These guys grew up in the East Texas of the late 50s and 60s. Rough. Racist. Crass. Cruel. Profane. Bigoted. Homophobic. Mysogynist. A place and time filled with assholes and basic jerks. The East Texas presented by Lansdale is not a place most would have wanted to drive through much less live. Trust me, you’ll have no sympathy for the cretins who populate the locals towns.
But you most certainly will like Hap and Leonard (and gain some begrudging respect for Hap’s dad). The closeness of their friendship leaps across the pages with insights on why these two seeming opposites have come to carve out a friendship for life. Hate the locals, but you’ll want to know more about this pair. Some of the best writing is when Hap and Leonard are (figuratively speaking) just lounging on a porch on a hot summer’s night sipping some ice tea or a beer and picking at each other.
This is our first book by Lansdale (at least according to the blog’s archive) who has quite a collection of titles and a ton of awards and honors to his credit. He has written over 40 books and this is the 12th in the Hap and Leonard series. Even learned that the characters have their own series on the Sundance Channel that has just started its 2nd season – I’ve already set my DVR and am hounding the library for earlier titles. If I were a betting man, I think it’s possible that, if I can get my hands on them, I could be setting up for a reader’s version of ‘binge watching’ of a new (to me) story series.
James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams as Hap and Leonard
Based on Lansdale’s 1995 novel The Two-Bear Mambo, Season 3 of Hap and Leonard will return James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams to the sometimes-comedic Reagan-era crime series for six episodes to debut in 2018. Also six episodes like 2016’s Season 1, Season 2 of the adventures of the blue-collar Vietnam vet pals Hap Collins (Purefoy) and Leonard Pine (Williams) wrapped April 19.
“At once darkly funny and socially relevant, there’s no other series like the Southern noir Hap and Leonard, and we couldn’t be prouder that it will continue for another season on SundanceTV,” said Jan Diedrichsen, GM of SundanceTV and Sundance Now. “James and Michael bring new depth and dimension to the buddy-action genre, and Joe Lansdale’s brilliant work continues to be in excellent hands with John Wirth and company.”
For more info about HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Elizabeth Story