RE: RARA-AVIS: Recent reads (Lansdale and Gores): Bassett

From: Todd Mason (
Date: 09 Apr 2001

Agree with you about ACT OF LOVE--I definitely had the sense of a writer still finding his feet with that one. Lansdale is a novelist, as THE MAGIC WAGON and more recently the Hap and Leonard books show, but I think he's a better writer at shorter lengths. TMW and the H&Ls are short novels, after all, and none (and certainly not the somewhat shambolic, if entertaining, DRIVE IN series) are quite up to some of his devastating short fiction. I've written elsewhere that "The Night They Missed the Horror Show" is one of the best suspense stories I've read by anyone, right up there with the likes of Bloch's "Final Performance" or Pronzini's "Strangers in the Fog" or Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," and Lansdale's come close again at least a dozen times. And then there are differently-brilliant short works such as "Bob the Dinosaur Goes to Disneyland," as pithy a magic realist story as one could want.

Likewise, though I can speak from less knowledge here, I have read only two
(I believe) good novels by Joe Gores...I've read only two, and they were both good, but they weren't a patch on the brilliant short stories such as
"Watch For It" and the one about witnessing an execution, among at least a half-dozen others I remember only slightly less vividly after reading them over the years. So, is he also a better short-story writer than novelist?
(And if anyone thinks that's a slight..."Watch For It" is another of those first-rate suspense stories.)

-----Original Message----- From: Doug Bassett [mailto:] ACT OF LOVE -- Joe Lansdale. Very much wanted to read this one -- I admire Lansdale without reservation, and this had quite a reputation at one time for being excessively bloody and violent. Finally found a copy and truthfully was rather disappointed. This one was Lansdale's first novel and as he sort of confesses in his afterword, it's rather purple. Also rather earnest and solemn -- Lansdale says that one of his main influences at the time was early Dean Koontz, and yeah, it shows. (I don't like Dean Koontz).

FINAL NOTICE -- Joe Gores My first in this series. Maybe I caught this on a bad day, but this seemed like a pale imitation of the 87th Precinct books. Does anyone have any suggestions here, too?

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