Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Listened: "Paradise Sky" by Joe R. Lansdale

Listened: Paradise Sky by Joe R., Lansdale, 2015, download.

Lansdale gives a fictional go at Nat Love, Shootist. Nat Love narrates this as true tales of his upbringing and Western adventures. It's another opportunity for interesting characters, great storytelling, and highlighting how black people and most women were sometimes lucky to survive every day. I've forgotten character names and do not have a print copy for reference.

Born a slave in Tennessee. Nat is about 20 years old and walking into town down a mid-block alley when he turns his head. Right in his face is a white woman's butt as she bends over doing laundry. Next is the woman's husband, Dickhead. Dickhead's eyes bulge out at the possibility of a black man looking at his wife. Nat has seen enough violence to know he needs to run. He grabs a horse and heads home. Nat's father gives him some cash and an old gun and tells him to go West and keep going.

Well, things don't work out. Nat ends up circling back home and finds his father dead. He heads West again but is caught trying to take a horse. The rancher who catches Nat, That One Dude, talks to Nat. That One Dude brings him inside the house. That One Dude decides to hire Nat. That One Dude was once a preacher, fought in the Civil War, returned to Tennessee and is now Mr. Modern when it comes to race and religion.

Nat stays with That One Dude for four years and That One Dude teaches Nat everything about horses, horse riding, and shooting. Nat is still wanted for horse theft and 'rape' and he leaves when he is recognized by a ranch visitor.

Adventures ensue. Nat meets a fellow former slave named Cullin and they both join the Calvary. Both are the sole survivors of an Indian attack. Rather than return to their post in West Texas the two figure everyone will declare them dead and they ride North. Nat and Cullin land in Deadwood, SD. Nat gets crappy jobs, meets a beautiful woman, befriends Wild Bill Hickcock.

All this time Nat has been pursued by Dickhead. Dickhead lets no grudge go unpunished and is renowned for being a sneaky, murdering sonofabitch. Dickhead pursued Nat into TX. Heavily scarred after an Indian attack Dickhead lands in Deadwood and discovers Nat. Dickhead kidnaps and gang rapes Nat's fiancee and Nat rides out after the bad dudes.

There are plenty of adventures and plenty of fights and plenty of similes. This is a Lansdale book so nothing is out of bounds. The characters have Lansdale-ish philosphizing about religion, love, family, violence, life, and bodily functions.

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