on 27 April 2015
The Magic Wagon (1986) is Joe R Lansdale at his most weird and his best. This novel was published shortly after his crime novels Act of Love (1981) and The Nightrunners (1983), when he was still known more for his weird fiction like Dead in the West (1983) and similar short fiction. These days, Lansdale is known more for his crime writing, most notably the Hap and Leonard series which is currently at nine books and counting. The Magic Wagon was initialy published in a small print run but has since been reprinted as a signed limited edition and is also available as a Kindle book and paperback.
The novel is set at the turn of the twentieth century in east Texas, like The Big Blow (2000), and centres around a travelling medicine show, and is told in an episodic style. The first part sees narrator Buster Fogg's family taken away by a twister. Fogg then teams up with Billy Bob Daniels who claims to be the illegitimate son of Wild Bill Hickock and is also a medicine pusher and trick shooter; the medicine show also includes Rot Toe the wrestling ape. They embark on many strange adventures, including digging up the remains of Wild Bill and having Billy Bob face down Texas Jack, a desperado who gave Wild Bill the shudders. Weird and wonderful and off-beat and beautifully told.
on 31 July 2014
This is the first Lansdale book I've read outside the Hap Collins and Leonard Pine series, which I loved. Despite the wild west setting, I loved it and I'm working my way through his others. So many books, so little time...