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Sunset and Sawdust Hardcover – Mar 16 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (March 16 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375414533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375414534
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.8 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,722,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I recently developed an interest in Joe Lansdale after hearing all the hype about "Bubba Ho-Tep," a film version of one of this author's short stories directed by Don Coscarelli of "Phantasm" fame and starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. I knew about Lansdale before the hoopla surrounding the film reached a fever pitch, of course, but he is one of those writers I unfortunately kept putting on the back burner in lieu of other "must read" stuff. On an excursion to the library recently I decided to finally check out something-anything, really-from this author. Since I couldn't find the short story collection containing "Bubba Ho-Tep," I settled on "Sunset and Sawdust" largely because it looked like it is his newest book and because it was the first one to catch my eye. I am happy to announce that I enjoyed this book despite a few minor reservations. I ended up enjoying "Sunset and Sawdust" so much that upon finishing it I immediately went back to the library to pick up another one of his books.
Set in the heat parched environs of Camp Rapture (known to the local employees as "Camp Rupture"), East Texas during the Great Depression, "Sunset and Sawdust" tells us everything we would want to know about a spirited firecracker named Sunset Jones. The adventure begins when Sunset (so named because of her mane of bright red hair) murders her abusive husband during a tornado strike. Regrettably for Sunset, her husband Pete was the town constable and the son of the primary owners of the local saw mill. It takes a lot of guts to stroll into the mill and tell Pete's parents what she did, but Sunset is the type of gal who always lives up to her responsibilities.
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Format: Hardcover
With Sunset and Sawdust, Lansdale's readers find themselves revisiting the familiar terrain of East Texas, a region which the author has evoked with much intimacy and affection in novels like Mucho Mojo and Rumble Tumble. Set in the lumber town of Rapture, Texas, the novel begins as its heroine, the fetching Sunset Jones, shoots her husband Pete in the head with his own .38. Pete, a man who was a little too fond of beating and raping his wife, dies with a surprised look on his face, his ass in the air, and his pants around his ankles.
Receiving unexpected moral and political support from her mother in law Marilyn, who feels partially responsible for her son's vile behavior, Sunset is appointed to serve the remainder of Pete's term as Constable of Rapture. Assisted by the plain spoken Clyde, and the handsome and mysterious drifter Hillbilly, Sunset finds herself at the center of a murder mystery involving her husband's mistress and unborn child. What follows is pure Lansdale, including a couple of beatings, a house fire, sweaty sex, gunplay, creepy villains (one of whom previously appeared in Lansdale's outstanding short novel The Big Blow), unexpected plot twists, and general mayhem.
Lansdale continues on his impressive upward climb of constant refinement and improvement, producing a book that exceeds the high expectations created by such previous successes as the Edgar Award winning The Bottoms and 2003's A Fine Dark Line. In the hands of a lesser writer, the events depicted in Sunset and Sawdust might read like an over the top country soap opera, but Lansdale's distinctive voice, combined with his emotional wisdom and his abiding affection for even the most despicable of his characters, transforms these incidents into affecting drama.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, I am a Lansdale fan. I discovered his books about four years ago and I have read nearly every thing he's written. Lansdale keeps getting better and better. The location of nearly all of his books is in East Texas. I spent some time in East Texas approximately 12 years ago; it has a unique culture that Lansdale has captured and passes on in his stories.
Sunset and Sawdust is set in the Great Depression. It begins with a tornado and a murder. Sunset Jones, shoots and kills her law enforcement husband in self defense as he beat her and later tried to rape her. At the same time, a tornado is blowing down the house around her.
To Sunset's surprize, her mother-in-law, owner of a lumber mill, supports Sunset and uses her political pull to appoint her as the first female constable in East Texas. Of course, no Lansdale book is complete without him attacking sexism and racism. Sunset has a mystery to solve. A dead women and a dead baby, both covered in oil, are discovered in the rich soil on the farm land owned by an African American farmer. The woman is Sunset's dead husband's mistress. Was he the father of the deceased baby?
Also in this story, another character from Lansdale's The Big Blow makes his appearance in this tale. Lansdale creates some of the best characters and creepiest villians. Sunset has to battle two of them, an aging boxer, who is still deadly with his fists, and his half brother who is not only evil, but has a split personality.
Lansdale is quite a wordsmith. His prose is like sitting at the feet of a masterful story teller and listening to him spin a tale. His one-liners, metaphors, and similes are priceless. I like the way Lansdale describes the dirt and grime of a little, filthy, lumber town.
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