Top critical review
LANSDALE STORIES? YES! LANSDALE NOVELS? NO!
on April 11, 2002
Joe R. Lansdale is, in my opinion, one of the best cult writers of our time when it comes to the short story. Any of his collections of short fiction is worth the MSRP price, no question. His voice is raw, crude, rude, vulgar, crass and funny as hell. Unfortunately, Ol' Joe just doesn't have the kind of imagination that fits well into novel format. I don't consider this to be a major criticism of him, but I do think it suggests that he keep his efforts directed at shorter narrative forms. Way back when I read "The Nightrunners," I passed off the book's shortcomings as simply the natural by-product of a first novel. Let's face it, even the best writers usually have a bum time of it their first day out. However, after having read "Mucho Mojo," I think I can say without hesitation that Lansdale should simply stay away from the format all together. The book has some interesting and highly atmospheric touches, to be sure. The plot, however, is one of the weakest I've ever read. Anyone paying attention and not simply using the book as something to do during lay-overs will have no problem putting the mystery together. The rest is simply a long slog as we wait for the two protagonists to play catch-up. There is also a ridiculous love story angle thrown in for no apparent reason and which adds absolutely nothing to the story. Weak, weak, weak! As I say, the book isn't without its stylistic charms (hence the three star rating), and Lansdale still ranks high on my list of contemporary authors (hence the high probability of my purchasing any forthcoming short story collections), but do yourself a favor, dear reader, avoid this guy's novels like the plague. Read or reread "Writer of the Purple Rage" or "By Bizarre Hands" for a real taste of Mr. Lansdale's talent.