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By Bizarre Hands: Stories [Hardcover]

Joe R. Lansdale , Joe R. Landsdale


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's the voice of the back woods that scares you Aug. 25 2002
By Glen Engel Cox - Published on Amazon.com
Lansdale's world is filled with razors, bad boys, drive-ins, pain, unfulfilled desires, injustice, bigotry, preachers. But most of all, it's filled with energy and truth. By Bizarre Hands is Joe's first collection, but rest assured that it won't be the last; talented and prolific are two more words synonymous with Lansdale. Worth the price of the collection alone is the Stoker award-winning story, "Night They Missed the Horror Show," to my mind the best horror story in the last ten years, no small recommendation. But also herein are the genesis stories for Lansdale's novels The Nightrunners ("Boys Will Be Boys") and The Magic Wagon ("The Windstorm Passes"), as well as collecting obscure Lansdale classics such as "Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back" (from Masques) and "I Tell You It's Love" (from Modern Stories #1, a one-shot magazine edited by Lewis and Edith Shiner).
Two stories are new to this volume: "The Steel Valentine" and "The Fat Man and the Elephant." The former is a relative of Stephen King's story, "The Ledge," a battle between two men, one ruthless and cruel and the other learning how to be. An interesting variation on the theme, yet not as original as I had come to expect from Lansdale. On the other hand, "The Fat Man and the Elephant" is something that could only have been written by Joe. A curious mix of metaphysics and good ol' fashion religion, with a little zen on the side, the story centers on Sonny, a Baptist minister, who "communes" with a sideshow elephant.
What makes Lansdale different from the hordes of horror writers flooding the market today? It's his sense of place. Joe grew up in the backwoods of East Texas, and almost all of his stories are set there. Trapped underneath the evergreens, there lurks a different sort of horror, one that Joe escaped from and is telling you about now: small town Texas. The people are more alien than you might imagine, the settings more bizarre, but in Lansdale's stories, they come alive before your eyes to reveal these differences. And the reason Lansdale's stories work? Because by the time you understand the differences, you have also discovered the similarities within your own back yard.
By Bizarre Hands is only available in a hardcover edition from Mark Ziesing, who is also publishing hardcover editions of Lansdale's recent paperback thrillers Cold in July and Savage Season. No other small publisher (well, maybe Ursus Imprints, Arkham House, and Scream/Press--see below) puts as much quality into the production as Ziesing and all three of these books are as beautiful as the work is talented. Highly recommended.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Twisted Collection of Short Stories in History! March 25 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This collection of short stories is what turned me into a diehard Joe R. Lansdale fan. A few of them were in the forefront of the "splatterpunk" genre (though Joe has tried to distance himself from this, and I don't believe he should be pigeon-holed, either.) Most notable are the stories, "The Night They Missed the Horror Show," and "The Pit." "The Night They Missed the Horror Show" is the most unflinching morality tale about racism I've come across. It will repulse you, but you will never forget it. "The Pit" takes the tried-and-true horror movie theme of getting stranded in a weird southern town full of lunatics and Pentecostal snake-handlers to a high art. Readers may find some of the events in his stories hard to believe, but if you know anything about East Texas, where Joe lives, you would believe it all. Especially if you've ever heard about Vidor, Texas.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark Collection Nov. 2 2000
By El Kabong - Published on Amazon.com
When this first collection of Lansdale stories was published, you knew you were witnessing a hard act to follow. His drawling, matter-of-fact prose style - always direct, never showy - masked a deeply disturbing imagination and visceral power; indeed, his plain-folks approach intensified the horrific effects far more successfully than the rococo elegance of Clive Barker's horror fiction. BY BIZARRE HANDS still stands as the best 'first' collection in the field since Bradbury's DARK CARNIVAL back in '47. Lansdale has an utter fearlessness about him here; for his stories to do their work, he's willing to push past commonly-accepted borders of taste and restraint to show you where, and how, the beast within us lives. Turns out he's done his job so well, even he's a little leery of going back here (while not disavowing this book, he's made it clear in subsequent work that, having made his trek into the heart of darkness, he'd prefer to move on to slightly sunnier climates). Can't blame him, either. If he'd kept on in this vein, he'd either end up committed or burned as a witch or made poster boy for the next Outraged Citizens' Council: BY BIZARRE HANDS is THAT dark. The stories collected here (among others, 'Duck Hunt', 'The Night They Missed The Horror Show', 'Down By The Sea..', 'Fat Man And The Elephant', 'The Pit' and the warped and chilling title tale) have the combined impact of a tornado in a business district on a Monday morning...sheer devastation. Most Lansdale readers will know him for his flinty, flavorful crime novels written in the best MANHUNT tradition, but those of us who discovered him here have been spoiled for life. If he never writes another horror story again, he'll still be one of the field's most indelible practitioners, simply for this book. Grab it before it vanishes forever - like DARK CARNIVAL did.

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