Monday, June 9, 2008

Lost Echoes

First of all, I should tell you I am a huge fan of Joe R. Lansdale. This goes all the way back to the 80s, with novels like The Nightrunners and Savage Season, and even better short stories along the lines of “Night They Missed the Horror Show” and “Tight Little Stitches In A Dead Man’s Back”. He is one of the few writers who has never disappointed me, and he certainly doesn’t let me down with Lost Echoes, his latest, published in February by Vintage.

It’s the story of Harry Wilkes, a young man whose bout with the mumps as a child left him with an unusual talent. When ever a sound is struck on an inanimate object, such as the slamming of a car door, he relives any traumatic experiences in the area tied to the object. Vicious murders, back-seat rapes, suicides – he relives each of them. If the chair his father sat in when he died of a heart attack is scraped on the floor, he watches his father die all over again. Rather than this power making him important, it has turned him into an alcoholic recluse in his early twenties.

The bulk of a novel concerns his meeting a fellow traveler, another man who began drinking when he inadvertently caused the death of his wife and son. Together, they start to pull their lives together. Then, the girl he loved shows up with a request: Help me find who murdered my father – and he has to face his greatest fears.

Lansdale’s early work was extreme, and he was considered a transgressive author. Time has mellowed him, however, and this book, while not flinching from violence and containing heavy profanity, is much lighter than his early work. For those of you not familiar with him, he writes dialogue as well or better than any living writer, and the humor in the conversations always makes me laugh out loud. Highly recommended.


Craig Clarke said...

If there were any justice in this world, this would have been a best-seller. At the time, I thought it was pretty much the best thing he's written.

KentAllard said...

I agree, and I think you can say that about several of his books. I tricked my local book club into reading The Bottoms, and the lowest grade from the bunch, who were pre-disposed to hate it, was 9.0/10. I don't know why every new Lansdale release doesn't debut at #1.

Craig Clarke said...

Me either. I'm really looking forward to Leather Maiden.