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David M. Simon at DAVE WRITES AND DRAWS praises Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE – HAP AND LEONARD: THE EARLY YEARS.
Through the various novels and novellas in the series, we readers have been able to follow the twosome through just about their entire adult lives. The one thing missing, except for the occasional stories they would tell, was their early lives. That began to change in 2017 with BLOOD AND LEMONADE, a collection of loosely connected short stories that delved into Hap and Leonard’s early years. The book was a revelation, and included their very first meeting, a truly epic night that fits neatly into their wild and wooly mythology.
Now Lansdale has gifted us with OF MICE AND MINESTRONE, subtitled HAP AND LEONARD: THE EARLY YEARS. If anything, this one is even better. Lansdale is one of our very best short story writers, and every story here is a gem. By seeing Hap and Leonard as teenage boys, we’re given an intimate glimpse of the men they will become. OF MICE AND MINESTRONE features everything Lansdale is best at, including lovingly described hand to hand combat, real, flesh and blood characters, the best dialogue this side of Elmore Leonard, and sometimes scatological, always laugh out loud humor.
For CRIME READS, Scott Montgomery delivers The Evolution of Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard.
Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books make up one of the most unique series in crime fiction. East Texas liberal redneck Hap Collins narrates his misadventures with gay, black, republican and, lethal buddy Leonard Pine that often veer into the violent and sometimes surreal. The stories cover a lot of territory, with indictments of racism, right wing politics, and the dangers of organized religion, yet always carrying a through line about the power of friendship and the families you create.
“I think I always feel like I’m going home with those guys.” Joe explains. “Hap has a similar past to my own, and Leonard is like a number of people I know combined, and actually has a lot of me in him as well. Hap’s voice is so natural to me. The genre engine that drives the stories satisfies why I became a reader in the first place, and then a writer. I love genre storylines, but I also love more literary aspects of style and character, and dialogue grows out of character. It’s bigger than life dialogue as Hap and Leonard are bigger than life characters. They seem everyday in a way, and that is part of their appeal, a certain authenticity, but at the same time they are bigger than life.”
If you’re a fan of the series, you have gotten used to the breaks Joe takes from it to work on other books. Before this latest hiatus from The Boys (as he often refers to them), Joe has left us a collection of short stories, OF MICE AND MINESTRONE, to hold us over until their return, while he takes on other literary pursuits. The pause also gives us a chance to look at the novels of the past, which can be broken up into four separate trilogies.
Montgomery at MYSTERY PEOPLE interviews Lansdale about More Better Deals.
Scott Montgomery: More Better Deals is an homage to one of your favorite writers James M Cain. You once described him as a “clean writer.” What does that mean to you?
Joe R. Lansdale: His prose is uncluttered. He doesn’t even tell you who’s talking, and you always know. He writes tight, little stories without adornment, but his prose is still fast paced and muscular and understandable.
SM: While I see the classic Cain plot setup, the voice, characters, and theme are all yours. How do you try to use your influences in your work?
JRL: Well, this is a more obvious one than usual. I have wanted to play with the Cain structure—at least the one he developed for his two signature books in my view, Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice—then undercurrent it with social commentary without it being too overwhelming, and I wanted to give it my voice and more humor, though it is certainly dark humor.
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For MYSTERY PEOPLE, Scott Montgomery includes Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE – HAP AND LEONARD: THE EARLY YEARS among his Top Ten (Eleven, Actually) Crime Fiction Books of 2020 So Far.
The author delivers a half dozen short stories that look at the formative years of his characters, Hap and Leonard. The stories run the gamut from fun genre romps, bittersweet nostalgia, and poignant character studies, showing some sides you haven’t seen from them.
David Bell at CRIME READS mentions Hap and Leonard in Complicated, Dangerous, Toxic, and Sometimes Beautiful: Male Friendships in Crime Fiction.
We all know the prolific Joe Lansdale can write anything and write it well. Crime, historical, western, horror. But is it possible his Hap and Leonard series is his most inspired creation? Only Lansdale could conjure the chaos that ensues when a Texas good old boy (Hap) and a gay, black Vietnam vet (Leonard) join forces and become best friends. The books are violent, suspenseful, and (hardest of all to pull off) laugh-out-loud funny. And they’re all anchored by this unlikeliest of friendships.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY was the first to share the trailer for The Pale Door, executive-produced by Lansdale. It premieres in theaters, on demand, and digital August 21.
In horror-Western The Pale Door, the Dalton gang finds shelter in a seemingly uninhabited ghost town after a train robbery goes south. Seeking help for their wounded leader, they are surprised to stumble upon a welcoming brothel in the town’s square. But the beautiful women who greet them are actually a coven of witches with very sinister plans for the unsuspecting outlaws.
The Pale Door is directed by Aaron B. Koontz (Camera Obscura, Scare Package) who co-wrote the script with Cameron Burns (Camera Obscura) and Keith Lansdale (the Creepshow TV show). The movie stars Devin Druid (13 Reasons Why), Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings), Noah Segan (Knives Out), Stan Shaw (Monster Squad), Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills), Bill Sage (We Are What We Are) and Melora Walters (Magnolia). The Pale Door is presented and executive produced by novelist Joe R. Lansdale.
PASTE includes the Hap and Leonard TV series among The 28 Best Crime Shows on Netflix, Ranked.
There are so many things that Hap and Leonard does that are wonderfully unique in this TV landscape. Based on Joe R. Lansdale’s books, the series is an authentic story about the south, capturing the tone and cadence of its location with aplomb. It’s also a blue collar story that isn’t just about being poor in East Texas, but that desperation informs everything that happens in this wacky yet soulful series. The two men at the heart of the show are best friends and total opposites—one is a straight white hippy, the other is black, gay, conservative—and they support each other, joke and fight like brothers. These things are all taken as being typical in Hap and Leonard, which thoughtfully followed-up a wild first season with an incredibly emotional second, and a heartbreaking third. With laconic East Texas style, the 80s-set series deals with a new villain each season (as Hap and Leonard accidentally stumble into their path) with humor and heart, never ignoring the racial politics of the region. It’s a show that illustrates how people with even the most disparate viewpoints can find common or at least cordial ground, and the consequences of what happens when they don’t. The woefully overlooked series is stocked with an amazing cast, and two actors who know how to convincingly (and never cartoonishly) pull off a Texas drawl. —Allison Keene
Continue on to page 2 for more Lansdale.
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Photo: Karen Lansdale
Using Hap and Leonard driving around and telling stories as a framing device, HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE is a mosaic novel about the early life of Hap Collins. Some of the stories are about Hap, some are about Hap’s father and Hap just narrates. They’re all told in the much-revered Joe Lansdale style.
As near as I can tell, I’ve only read three of the stories before, although I could be wrong about that. As a mosaic novel, BLOOD AND LEMONADE works very well and does a lot to show how Hap, and in some cases Leonard, have been shaped by the events of their early lives.
Lansdale’s beer and tailgate style of storytelling gives him a unique voice and feels like it was written specifically for my ears. There is comedy, fist fights, and even some horror in the form of a ghost story, showing the depth and versatility of Lansdale’s style.
TOM HOLLAND’S TERROR TIME declares “February 2017 belongs to ‘Hap and Leonard.’”
The Super Bowl, The Walking Dead, and now Hap And Leonard in both the literary and TV world. These are the things we have to embrace and rejoice over come February 2017 with a new novel and the season 2 premiere on Sundance.
The new Hap And Leonard novel, RUSTY PUPPY which releases on February 21st 2017. This latest novel in the saga covers Hap, a former 60’s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel,as he is recovering from a life-threatening stab wound, Louise Elton comes into Hap and Leonard’s PI office to tell him that the police have killed her son, Jamar. Months earlier, a bully cop pulled over and sexually harassed Jamar’s sister, Charm. The officer followed Charm over the course of the next couple of months, leading Jamar to videotape and take notes on the cop and his partner. The next thing Louise hears, Jamar got in a fight and is killed in the projects by local hoods. It doesn’t add up: he was a straight A student, destined for better things, until he began to ask too many questions about the racist police force. Leonard, a tough black gay Vietnam vet and Republican, joins Hap in the investigation, and they stumble upon the racial divides that have shaped their Eastern Texas town. But if anyone can navigate these pitfalls and bring the killers to justice, it’s Hap and Leonard. Filled with Lansdale’s trademark whip-smart dialogue, colorful characters, and relentless pacing, RUSTY PUPPY is Joe Lansdale at his page-turning best.
Scott Montgomery at MYSTERY PEOPLE names HONKY TONK SAMURAI the best book of the year.
Hap & Leonard are back as private eyes in a case that involves a used car/escort/blackmail ring, a transgender pimp, and inbred cannibal assassins. Not for the feint of heart, politically correct, easily offended, or those who have anything against shoot-outs, great dialogue, and fun.
THE MYSTERIOUS BOOKSHOP original Hap and Leonard short tale HOODOO HARRY is currently available.
When Hap Collins and Leonard Pine first see the bookmobile, it’s barreling down the middle of a country road, seconds before it smashes into their car. When they come to, they learn that the young boy driving the bus has died in the crash. Then they discover several bodies, hidden in the bookmobile’s rear compartment. Does one of them belong to the woman known as “Hoodoo Harry,” one-time mobile librarian, who’s been missing for the past several years? And are the child corpses the same kids who disappeared from the impoverished town where Hoodoo Harry lived? Armed only with the evidence contained in the now-destroyed bookmobile, Hap and Leonard set out to hunt the murderous culprit, risking their lives to make the children of Nesbit, Texas, safe to read once more.
Available in signed numbered ($50) or lettered ($100) hardcover, or in paperback.
For more info about HAP AND LEONARD: BLOOD AND LEMONADE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Elizabeth Story