Book Review: Wet Juju by Joe R. Lansdale | More2Read
 

Wet Juju by Joe R. Lansdale


 


 

“[Joe Lansdale has] a folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace . . . a considerable literary intelligence at work.”
New York Times Book Review

 

A ravenous cowboy hat-wearing mummy invades a rest home where possibly Elvis and John Kennedy reside, and it’s up to them to protect their home and stop its stealing of souls. A top hat wearing, razor-carrying demon from another dimension is found in an old house. An iconic bear with a taste for sex and mayhem meets an unsuspecting traveler on an airplane. A sentient set of false teeth with an insatiable appetite goes on a rampage. A Halloween monster that folds and fits in the trunk of a very strange car driven by nuns, pursues a carload of smart-ass teenagers. A gunslinger meets a peculiar set of ghosts and werewolves in an abandoned town. A black detective hunts for a lost recording tied to a deal with the devil, blues music, and a Lovecraftian creature with soul-claiming designs. A survivor of a zombie apocalypse hangs Christmas decorations. The ghost of an alien space traveler resides deep underground and can only be stopped by Dana Roberts, an expert at dealing with the supernormal.These are just a few of the stories in WET JUJU. Horror and weird tales, oddities that cling to the brain, lurk within the pages of this enormous volume of Lansdale goodness. Everything you need for happy nightmares.

 

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Joe R. Lansdale
Mr. Bear
By the Hair of the Head
My Dead Dog, Bobby
The Folding Man
The Hunt: Before, and After the Aftermath
Family
Once Upon A Time
God of the Razor
What Happened To Me
The Bleeding Shadow
Death Before Bed
A Visit with Friends
Christmas with the Dead
The White Rabbit
Dread Island
Dog
Dead Sister
The Gentleman’s Hotel
In the Mad Mountains
The Redheaded Dead
A Hard-On For Horror: Low Budget Excitement
The Case of the Angry Traveler
Boots
Regular Sex and Admiration
An Arrow in the Air
Dog, Cat, and Baby
Levitation
Bubba Ho-Tep
Hanging
Apocalypse
Love Doll: A Fable
December
King of Shadows
The Bones that Walk
Hole
The Junkyard
Chompers
Huitzilopochtli
Torn Away


 

Review:

 

One could say Lonsdale’s writing is a genre of its own.
I figure this also by his own words in introduction:
“The bulk of my work actually mixes genres, and in time the best of them are part of only one genre that counts to me. The Lonsdale genre.”

Stories inspired from his own dreams onto the page evident right of the bat with first story in this collection Mr. Bear, onwards down the rabbit hole Lansdale takes you page after page into realms new, fun, and dangerous.

This was a real treat, and the most enjoyable reads and discoveries this year, with stories from an author i have loved his works in the past, there are some that did not work for me but the ones that did are golden nuggets of horror, weird and great conjurings with vivid telling and escapism from this pandemic times we are living.
The publishers S.S.T, Short Scary Tales Publishers, have done a great job putting this together and thank you to them for the opportunity to read these hard to find good short tales.

 

Few minutes after adding last few stories I reviewed including King of Shadows I must mention he maybe a King of the Shadows with words.

 


My selected stories reviewed:

 

Mr. Bear

Mr. Bear a bear on a plane, no three bears in the woods, has to be a dream. The dialogue with Mr Bear has you crack a smile with some adult talk and profanities, this is not a children’s bear story.
Bear has human tendencies and vices, all coming alive in the tale, he finds a new buddy and few tragedies ensue.
Fun short read.

“Once upon a goddam time the bears roamed these forests and we were the biggest, baddest, meanest mother*****rs in the woods.”

 

By the Hair of the Dead

A young lodger of a lighthouse with dreams of being “the new Norman Mailer.” His landlord a one Mr. Machen older and mysterious, once a practitioner of ventriloquism, with a life history to tell. With possible new discoveries with memories talked out the tale takes a turn for the mysterious and sinister, an eerie tale with witchcraft mentioned.

“The Lighthouse was grey and brutally weathered, kissed each mooring by a cold, salt spray. Perched there among the rocks and sand, it seemed a last, weak sentinel against an encroaching sea; a relentless, pounding surf that had slowly swallowed up the shoreline and deposited it in the all-consuming belly of the ocean.”

 

The Folding Man

“You know that story about the black car?”

There is that to learn and a case of peculiar looking like nuns individuals riding in a black car with a folding man to boot on few guys tail and oh its Halloween too! This frightening read will have you watching out over your shoulder in the cold of nights of winter for a sighting of this black car. A well done horror tale you won’t forget easily.

“My grandmother used to tell me about a black car that roams the highways and the back roads of the South. It isn’t in one area all the time, but it’s out there somewhere all the time. Halloween is its peak night. It’s always after somebody for whatever reason.”

 

God of the Razor

A dilapidated house with new visitor and then mention of odd behaviour of razors from a peculiar other person uninvited amongst the damp water and rats running around. One may keep to electric razors and end usage of razor blades after reading this chilling tale.
The god of the razor something you won’t want to encounter, a horror creation overshadowing likes of the character Freddy Kruger from film.

In his story note included in this collection on this story he mentions this:
“Radio shows. Bloch. Brown. Popcorn dreams. It all came together. I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote this story down.”
He also tells about sending out to Rod Serling’s Twilight zone magazine.
What a travesty it took me this long to read The God of the Razor amongst the many collections I have of his and the many in the to-be-read pile. Thanks SST Publications.
There is great art piece in this collection and on the front cover of the character to add to the already many great drawings over the years.

 

 

The Bleeding Shadow

 

“…something unsettling, like a snake in a satin glove.”

Something not quite right one finds when Alma May plays a tune quite unlike any other blues he heard before. Equipped with .45 and a razor he set out in his Chevy in search of Alma May’s brother and the source of this new stirrings.
There will be Shadows calling and a blood-red moon.
Great little long short tale with all right ingredients, with similes and scenes, story flow and hook, Lonsdale is crafted at.

 

Christmas with the Dead

There will be need for supplies, Christmas decorations, head cracking, and chance for company, in a world turned bad to zombies.

 

The White Rabbit

“Wally Carpenter knew that to walk these streets lat at night was to invite trouble, but he was not a fearful man. And besides, he carried in his coat pocket a fully loaded, .38 snub-nose revolver, with which he was rather proficient.
So it was with caution, but not particular dread, that Carpenter stalked Cairos’s dark streets and pondered upon the seeming emptiness and uncharacteristic silence of the city. He wandered in a nearly aimless fashion, feeling for all the world as though he had been hijacked by space creatures and set down in a replica of the city he knew and loved; and presently his footsteps brought him to that area of Cairo known as the City of the Dead.”

Carpenter did not believe in demons and ghouls, “they were the stuff of opium dreams and fevered imaginations, nothing more.” He was well read man and was fascinated lost in worlds in fiction finds himself lost in one of his favourite stories either as part of a dream or a real life dilemma.
With hindsight one would not practice ‘when in Rome do as Romans do’ in this instance in a not so fairy tale delivered with purely magical telling techniques.
A favorite of mine in this collection with a great example of Lansdale combing dreams and characters from fiction to tell a solid original tale of his own. 

 

Dread island

“A proper yarn” to be told by the main character doing the telling Huck, he mentions these sometimes true circumstances in telling:

“Anyhow, this here story is true as that other story that was written down about me and Jim. But that fella wrote it down made all the money and didn’t give me or Jim one plug nickel of it. So, I’m going to try and tell this one myself like it happened, and have someone other than that old fart write it down for me, take out most of the swear words and such, and give you a guessed up version that I can sell and get some money.”

In a time of steamboats and telling a good yarn, Huck and Jim out on raft in Mississippi River in search and rescue of two friends, Tom Sawyer and Joe, and the discovery of Dread Island and its inhabitants, ones stripped from some kind of nightmarish dream, with Brer Rabbit and Cut Through You awaiting in this grande long short forty page mysterious yarn.

“Now, any old steamboat will tell you, that come the full moon, there’s an island out there in the wide part of the Mississippi. You’re standing on shore, it’s so far out it ain’t easy to see. But if the weather’s just right, and you go some kind of eye on you, you can see it. It don’t last but a night-the first night of the full moon-and then it’s gone until next time.”

 

Dog

Man with money, life, and wife, problems.
Out on bike to clear some air and exercise, encounters large black/tan beast of a dog turns into a chase story riding along the straight thrill ride.

“He sat on the bike at the end of his drive and looked back at the brick house with its well-trimmed shrubs and felt something he couldn’t identify. Anger. Disappointment. He couldn’t place it, but whatever it as, it was gnawing at his insides like some kind of trapped, starving rat.”

 

The Gentleman’s Hotel

Hairy beasts with yellow eyes from beneath, there be seven in number, in a desolate old town, evil and ghostly presence awaits in The Gentleman’s Hotel devoid of gentlemen but a thrilling showdown King Wolf and The Reverend Jebidiah in this nicely crafted man and beast battle.
Supernatural and the old West, two immersive ingredients.
I am thinking now of The Gunslinger by Stephen King a conjuring existing on many readers memorable and favourite characters in fiction lists.
There is a collection of works that feature tales with this main character Reverend Jebidiah.
The collection is described as “Deadwood meets Cthulhu in this wild and profane Western romp featuring zombies, werewolves, evil spirits, and one pissed-off gun-slinging preacher.”
This is something new I have discovered and will have to try that collection some time in the future.

 


 

In the Mad Mountains 

 

This one was in another Joe Lansdale collection released by Subterranean Press that was in my best of the year list for 2018. Originally released in The Gods of HP Lovecraft collection in 2015.

This is my review then for that release that had some story notes for it too:

“The introduction to this short story has some personal reflections on histories, with authors, people, and hate. These introductions are worthwhile reading and insightful, a warrior with words, with mind and soul.
This narrative loosely based around the Lovecraft story.
The beginning sentences hook you in, “The moon was bright. The sea was black. The waves rolled, and the bodies rolled with it. The dead ones and the live ones, screaming and dying, begging and pleading, praying and crying to the unconcerned sea.”
A narrative with survivors at seas looking for warmth and provisions, who encounter an old boat and scenes of macabre and dread, then other things, beings and a mountain.
A treat of a vivid darkly tale done well with all the strangeness, adventure and mystery Lovecraft conjured, with the suspense in what lurks, passed, and to come, ones to haunt your sleep.”

 

 

The Redheaded Dead

The Reverend with his horse armed with .36 Navy Colt and .44 converted Colt fully loaded with bullets, ones that.. “bullets were touched with drops of silver, blessed by himself with readings from the Bible,” he is up against a monster a creature he calls, “a descendant of Judas.”
The Reverend a gunman on his steed in the old west on a mission against a certain kind of evil, rain and hail falling, life and death in the balance and fates unfolding with a Lansdale crafting. This is the same Reverend appeared in previous story The Gentleman’s Hotel. This was released first in the collection Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West.


 

A Hard On for Horror

Nonfiction writing on horror in film, low-budget movies, culture of old, his youth and drive-
ins.

There is a paragraph that just has to crack a smile:
“The low-budget horror films is, on one hand, one of the most maligned forms of entertainment, and on the other hand, is often given a significance far beyond its worth.
As a sometimes writer of stories and novels of questionable taste, meaning fiction that is the equivalent of a dinner guest enthusiastically burping and farting at their host’s table between asking why a better beer wasn’t stocked for dinner and complaining about the loos in the gravy, and yet being able to discuss Hemingway and Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor and Doc Savage book where ol’ Doc goes to Hell, films John Huston and John Ford and innovative crap-maker Roger Corman, I am quite aware of these extremes.”

I might just watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Invaders from Mars, and Night of the Living Dead, with a keener philosophical eye finely tuned by Joe Lansdale.
He poses a question in here, in his own words in the finale of the piece:
“That Mr. Lansdale is full of doodoo?”
I say, no sir, not likely.

This first appeared in no longer available collection Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film Paperback – January 1, 1992 by ed. Golden, Christopher.

 

 

King of Shadows

A new un-welcomed resident of his home, a brother from another mother, Draighton is one he did not know existed, one whom lost his parents to tragic death by razor.
A mean kid Leroy is and pokes fun at Draighton due to his disability with legs in braces. Made one nervous, embarrassed, and small, there will be some retribution with unkind things occurred and occurring to this boy with leg braces.
They be some what goes around comes around one senses with dread and trepidation.
Leroy feels some kind of “mysterious stuff..boogie man shit”trying to occur.

Another chilling tale of the razor from the God of razor world conjured by Joe Lansdale.

This God of razor found its inception in fiction with his novel Nightrunners of which spawned many short stories there onwards, a novel now out of print I have yet to read it. 

“..Did you know that there are eleven dimensions?”
“What are you talking about?”
“There are eleven and they bump against one another, and sometimes they collide. They can collide with great force, and perhaps in the past that as the source of the Big Bang, the colliding of dimensional matter. The dimensions exist alongside ours and we can’t see them or touch them, except now and then when something slips through.”
…..
“There is a lord of all things sharp, and he lives in one of those dimensions, and he can be called. He can be invited. He can slip through. His is the world of the razor, and he is the lord of the razor. The King of Shadows.”

 

 

The Bones That Walk

An old legend The Dutchman superstitious mountains and gold nuggets and a map with a treasure the gain.
One wrangler tells of the how he got the map and then on to finding the treasure, the good and bad of the fortune and the mysterious realm around it deep in the dark cave something awaits.
A short immersive mystery and horror at the same time

 



 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 20 November 2020