Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale

4 Stars
“Only the past seems to matter now; only it seems to be alive; only it can support my soul.”

I finally got around to reading this over the weekend and have been debating ever since about how to write a review. This is one of those books that if too much is given away, then everything might as well be given away. It also has a blurb that is about 112 pages long so go read that if you want way too much backstory. As for me? I’m going to let the book do most of the talking.

This is the story of Harry Collins – a man who is near the end of his life and is recalling a monumental time when he was just a boy . . .

“I’ve got the memories of then, nearly seventy years ago, and they are as fresh as the moment. It all happened, as I recall, in the years nineteen thirty-three and thirty-four.”

This was a time when Harry and his family lived in East Texas, specifically near the Sabine River bottoms . . .

“The bottoms themselves were beautiful. The trees lush, the leaves heavy with rain, the blackberry vines twisting and tangling, sheltering rabbits and snakes. Even the poison ivy winding around the oak trees seemed beautiful and green and almost something you wanted to touch. But like the poison ivy, looks could be deceptive. Under all the beauty, the bottoms held dark things.”

The dark thing Harry and his sister Tom(asina) had always been afraid of was someone knows as the “Goat Man,” but when Harry was 11 years old he discovered the true evils of the world in the form of murdered women and the reality of what kind of person would automatically be suspected of such heinous crimes . . .

“My people, they like chaff, boy. They blow away in the breeze and ain’t no one cares.”

The book also delves into the battle of conscience Harry’s father, the constable, had to face throughout the process . . .

“It’s like I’ve opened this box and I don’t know how to close it.”

For months now friends have been trying to get me to read Lansdale. I finally caved and my first selection was the classic B-Horror Movie type of story with The Drive In. I was convinced to read this one next when a certain monkey-wielding book fairy forced it down my throat. I can’t express how happy I am that she did so. I’ve been terrified to read Harper Lee’s “new” release and decided to stand firm and maintain my memory of the original which has maintained its place as one of my favorites of all time. Color me shocked when I discovered that the author who is famous for the antics of Hap and Leonard would also be the person to write a coming of age story that was so reminiscent to To Kill A Mockingbird. If you were a fan of Scout and Jem or found Atticus to be as close to a superhero as you would probably ever meet in real life, I can’t recommend this book enough. This was a real thinker about how little some things have changed, it's written so well you'll think you are in Texas during the Great Depression and it is guaranteed to make you feel allllllll of the feels . . . .

Don’t trust me? Check out my friend Paul’s review instead ‘cause he wrote a good’un.

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