The Bottoms Paperback – Sep 1 2001
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Joe Lansdale, author of several horror novels, Westerns, and some outrageous thrillers, is something of a cult writer. The Bottoms, which may be the breakout book that moves Lansdale beyond the genre category, is a resonant and moving novel. Though there is a mystery at its core, it is at heart a coming-of-age story, with a more literary bent than Lansdale usually demonstrates.
Harry, an elderly man, tells the story of a series of events that occurred in his 11th year, when the mutilated, murdered bodies of Negro prostitutes began turning up in the county where his father was the local constable. Harry and Tom, his younger sister, find the first one. Only their father, Jacob Crane, seems to care about finding justice for the victims, who are dismissed out of hand as unimportant by the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan, which warns Jacob off any further investigations. Harry and Tom think they know who's responsible: the Goat Man, a creature who's said to lurk beneath the swinging bridge that crosses the Sabine River, where the first body was found. In fact, the Goat Man has something to do with the murders, and the secret of who he is and what he really did is the key to the unsolved slayings. But that takes second place to the artfully explicated character of Jacob and Harry's changing relationship with him in the course of the loss of his boyish innocence. This is a masterfully told story and a very good read. --Jane Adams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In his latest suspense thriller, prolific yarn-spinner Lansdale, best known for his offbeat series featuring the mismatched East Texas Sherlocks Hap Collins and Leonard Pine (Bad Chili), presents a different voice in a coming-of-age story set in the early years of the Great Depression. Lansdale's 80-something protagonist, Harry Crane, looks back to the day in 1933 when he was 13 and, with his nine-year-old sister, Tom (Thomasina), he found the mutilated corpse of a black prostitute bound to a tree with barbed wire near their home along the hardscrabble bottomlands of the Sabine River. The discovery presents their father, Jacob CraneAa farmer and barber eking out a living as the town constableAwith a nightmarish investigation. News travels slowly in the days before television, but Jacob learns from the black doctor who performs the makeshift autopsy that two other mutilated bodies have been found over the last 18 months. Because the victims are black and "harlots," no one in the county much cares. But when the body of a white prostitute is discovered, a rabid mob lynches MosesAa black man who has been something of a surrogate father to JacobAdespite Jacob and Harry's heroic efforts to save him. Predictably, another body is soon discovered. Lansdale is best when recreating the East Texas dialogue and setting. Readers will not have to work hard to unearth comparisons to characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, but gruesome details of the murders keep the novel from being labeled a period piece. Folksy and bittersweet, though rather rough-hewn and uneven, Lansdale's novel treats themes still sadly pertinent today. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Technically, I guess, the tale is told by the older sibling, who is now elderly (in a nursing home?); and to tell the truth, I wish Lansdale had left the frame story out of it. There's only so much denoument a novel needs, and I got more wind-down than I really wanted. But even so, it's a damn fine story and Lansdale's writing style is enough to keep you flying from paragraph to paragraph, even during those brief periods when you're less than thrilled with the content.
[side note: For those of you who may not be aware, Joe Lansdale is the spectacular fellow who wrote the short story upon which the movie <i>Bubba Ho-Tep</i> was based. If you are blessed enough to own (or rent) a copy of the DVD, be sure to check some of the extras for an interview or two with Lansdale. He seems like quite a character, all lower-bodily fixations aside.]
A lot of Lansdale's work has a streak of dark humor running through it; you know when you read it you'll have a good time. The Bottoms has a lot of the same qualities of his other work, but is a more serious telling. Released by Mysterious Press, this is more of what people usually expect when they pick up a mystery novel, but still with the signature Lansdale stamp. Racism is a subject that never seems to get old, and it hangs heavily over the proceedings.
From his room in a rest home, old Harry Collins tells the story of a period of his childhood in the 1930s. While he and his sister Tom (short for Thomasina and tomboy) are out on an unpleasant task -- that of putting down their sick dog, Toby -- they come across a dead black woman, naked and tied to a tree with barbed wire.Read more ›
A very well written book.
Most recent customer reviews
Great book. I loved the story, but also the description of the Bottoms and life there. Some graphic images, but good crime story. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Cindi
Last year a friend of mine told me about Joe R. Lansdale and the Hap Collins-Leonard Pine mysteries. Read morePublished on Dec 28 2003 by James Beasley
This is a well written, coming of age, murder mystery. No doubts about that. But it seems as if Mr. Read morePublished on Dec 23 2003
Set in East Texas during the Great Depression, Joe Lansdale's "The Bottoms" is a wonderful coming-of-age tale about life in a simpler time. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2003 by Jana L.Perskie
This was the first I have read of Joe Lansdale's books and I'd now like to read others. The plot moves very quickly (I read it in 2 nights), the characters are believable, the... Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2003
The Bottoms is simply one of the best books I have ever read. Granted, Lansdale's other novles about monsters and boogie men are fantastically entertaining, but The Bottoms puts... Read morePublished on June 12 2003 by Ryan Thomas
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I am a huge fan of his work and would recommend most of his stuff!Published on March 31 2003 by Catherine Singletary