One more entry for the PM Outspoken Authors series for my review blog, this time featuring Joe R. Lansdale.
While the other books in this series that I read and reviewed had a very similar feel, Lansdale bucks the trend and makes this short collection much more personal and therefore, in many ways, much more interesting. The other books in the series (that I’ve read) have carried forth a trifecta of sorts – one short story, one essay, and one interview. Lansdale gives us four short stories, the interview, and five short essays.
I can’t say that I’m a huge Lansdale fan, though I like his work enough that I requested to read this (there are a number of books in the PM Outspoken Authors series that I am not interested in reading). And along these lines, I’m familiar with Lansdale’s popular Hap and Leonard books (I’ve read only two books in the series) but I’m not an ardent fan. This collection does have a Hap and Leonard story which, to me, is just a fine short story – it doesn’t make me want to read more. I suspect for fans of the series, there might be some fun insight or just joy in reading a story featuring familiar characters.
Mostly I enjoyed the short essays (which I believe were written initially as newspaper column pieces). These provided some insight to the author and perhaps into what has driven him or inspired him as an author. I tend to find these sorts of insights quite interesting so I appreciated getting a little more than ‘usual’ in this book.
One essay is a … I think the best word to use is ‘rant’ … against religion. It didn’t bother me, it didn’t sway me, I took it more as a sociological perspective into the writer. If I were to read more of his work, or study it in some way, this would perhaps come into play (making a correlation between this rant/author’s belief and how his characters behave).
Looking for a good book? Miracles Ain’t What They Used to Be, by Joe R. Lansdale, is a decent collection. Maybe not ideal as an introduction to the author and his work (though nothing here suggests that’s the intent). Fans of his work will likely be glad to have these stories and essays (and interview) in one collection. Newcomers to his work should probably go pick up one of Lansdale’s novels first.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Miracles Ain’t What They Used to Be
author: Joe R. Lansdale
series: PM’s Outspoken Authors #17
publisher: PM Press
paperback, 128 pages