I don't necessarily like westerns. I don't hate the genre, but I'm just not that interested unless it's films like TOMBSTONE or THE HATEFUL EIGHT or BONE TOMAHAWK. Something with nontraditional grit, which Lansdale has done here expertly so. PARADISE SKY is the epic adventure of a black cowboy and his quest for redemption, survival, and revenge. It's dark. It's hilarious, and it's a must read. Don't let the western tag fool you if you tend to steer clear of that sort of thing. I'm seeing a boost in mashup westerns (the weird and the horrific), with John Boden's WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN (see below) helping pave that way again.
You can check out my review on Cemetery Dance Online, but here are a few of my thoughts from said review: Boden presents unique, otherworldly visuals and characters in this Wizard of Oz-esque, Tolkienish adventure that feels more like Joe Lansdale-meets-80s-body-horror-meets-Gunsmoke. The pages turn easily and quickly as we wait to see what other oddball characters or events he presents. And of course, there’s justice that needs bringin’, and any reader who’s started the read will be anxiously awaiting that outcome...This feels new, unpredictable, and fresh.
Not only one of the best books I read this year but in my top 4 single-author collections ever. It's both brutal and heartbreaking. If you've ever read Ketchum then you know how disturbing a single line in one of his stories can be, and this book proves it time and time again. I learned a lot about short storytelling from PEACEABLE KINGDOM.
A female-centric coming of age set in the 80s regarding a group of girls and one of them becoming possessed. Again, I'll point you to Cemetery Dance Online for my full review, but there's an excerpt: The aging punk rocker in me should hate this book. The testosterone-fueled machismo in me should be chopping wood or building car engines while reeking of onions and beer to compensate for the time spent reading about a group of young girls toting Trapper Keepers and spooning plushies in their rainbow-filled bedrooms. But here I am, singing its praises with my Dayglo flag held high. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Another great coming-of-age tale. Hepler does a fantastic job of switching timelines within these pages, making each one a story on its own that you can't wait to get back to rather than dumping background info as fluff when all we really want to do is get on with the story. A great roller-coaster of a ride, this one. And with the last fourth of the book I couldn't turn the pages quick enough.