Wednesday, January 4, 2023

QUICK SHOTS: The Magic Wagon by Joe R. Lansdale

Champion Joe has darn-near taught me all I know about writing. The man makes it look so easy it can make you wanna spit. Never seems to write a dull bit, never sounds like anyone other than hisownself and cranks out work like a veteran pulpsmith. I've went on and on about how much Lansdale's work means to here and got real wind-baggy about it. So, I won't be boring you about it again. I like his darned books, got it?

"The Magic Wagon" is a slim-little thing; it's a western not like you've ever read before or since, I'd imagine. Where else do you have mummies, sharpshooters, an orphan named Fogg and Albert, an ex-slave traveling the west with a chimp named Rot-Toe? Oh, and this is how the thing starts:

"Wild Bill Hickok, some years after he was dead, came to Mud Creek for a shoot-out of sorts."

Yup. C'mon that's solid gold. Lansdale is the closest thing to Samuel Clemmons in a white linen suit we got today. Albert and Fogg are buddies and they travel with Billy Bob who may or may not be the illegitimate son of Wild Bill with a Medicine Show. They got a nasty storm that by some bag mojo has been dogging them for a long while when they end up in Mud Creek, Texas.

You may remember Mud Creek from Lansdale's Zombie-Western "Dead in the West." Weird stuff seems to happen down in Mud Creek. Anyway, it's an episodic novel where we learn bits and pieces about the characters. It's full of Lansdale, hitting a lot of his hallmarks like the supernatural, racism, tall-tales and colorful language. He really makes you care about Albert and Fogg, then you'll simultaneously like and hate Billy Bob. Lansdale's real good at that. But what will happen when that evil-old cloud catches up to 'em in Mudd Creek? Can't be good.

In that link above you can read my review of Ray (Lansdale) Slater's "Texas Night Riders," Lansdale's attempt at conventual western. I liked "Texas Night Riders" a lot, but this is him shaking off any sort of mental shackles and writing what he wants. He's returned to westerns a few times, I'm thinking about reading his "Lost-Lansdale" book "Blood Dance," which seems to be a conventual western to a point then swerves into something a bit wilder. 

Look, it's a great book, give it a go. If I explained more about it, it would sorta spoil some of the magic (get it?) of the book. 

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