Prime The Thicket By Joe R. Lansdale –

Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture Starring Peter Dinklage ALA Reading List Award For History, Short ListLove And Vengeance At The Dark Dawn Of The East Texas Oil Boom From Joe Lansdale, A True American Original Joe Hill, Author Of Heart Shaped BoxJack Parker Thought He D Already Seen His Fair Share Of Tragedy His Grandmother Was Killed In A Farm Accident When He Was Barely Five Years Old His Parents Have Just Succumbed To The Smallpox Epidemic Sweeping Turn Of The Century East Texas Orphaning Him And His Younger Sister, LulaThen Catastrophe Strikes On The Way To Their Uncle S Farm, When A Traveling Group Of Bank Robbing Bandits Murder Jack S Grandfather And Kidnap His Sister With No Elders Left For Miles, Jack Must Grow Up Fast And Enlist A Band Of Heroes The Likes Of Which Has Never Been Seen If His Sister Stands Any Chance At Survival But The Best He Can Come Up With Is A Charismatic, Bounty Hunting Dwarf Named Shorty, A Grave Digging Son Of An Ex Slave Named Eustace, And A Street Smart Woman For Hire Named Jimmie Sue Who S Come Into Some Very Intimate Knowledge About The Bandits And A Few Members Of Jack S Extended Family To Boot In The Throes Of Being Civilized, East Texas Is Still A Wild, Feral Place Oil Wells Spurt Liquid Money From The Ground But As Jack S About To Find Out, Blood And Redemption Rule Supreme In The Thicket, Award Winning Novelist Joe R Lansdale Lets Loose Like Never Before, In A Rip Roaring Adventure Equal Parts True Gritand Stand By Me The Perfect Introduction To An Acclaimed Writer Whose Work Has Been Called As Funny And Frightening As Anything That Could Have Been Dreamed Up By The Brothers Grimm Or Mark Twain New York Times Book Review

10 thoughts on “The Thicket

  1. says:

    Jack Parker s parents die during an smallpox epidemic So his grandfather packs up Jack and his sister Lula and is taking them to an aunt to live Things never turn out that easy though and Grandpa is murdered not a spoiler and Lula is taken by a gang of bad guys Jack is on a mission to get his sister back and enlists several helpmates for his quest Eustace, a grave digging black skinned man who must stay away from alcohol Eustace s somewhat pet, Hog Don t laugh, Hog kicks some major ass Shorty, an educated little man, with a hair trigger temperament Jack wants to be able to get back the sister that was taken by the bad men and no matter how many times his companions point out that he may not be getting the same sister back, he stills wants to believe in a higher power and that good will win over bad.It was as if I had gone to visit Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah and had encountered the men who wanted to bugger the angels I had decided I had no choice but to go on with things, but I will tell you quite sincerely that my guts ached and I felt as if Jesus had laid a disapproving hand on my shoulder In fact, its warm presence was with me for awhile, until later in the day I discovered I had been messed on by a bird.Jack s entourage continues to grow as they make their way to the bad guys hideout located in the woods called the Big Thicket Jack picks up a local whore who decides she is done with whoring and she causes him to start thinking that life may not be as a black and white as he was brought up to believe.Even though I could guess the way this book was going to wrap up it still has that special Lansdale touch as so much that I m going to give it the full five stars I did think the story was slow in the beginning but then it made me start loving these characters A coming of age tale with lots of cussing and a shit ton of violence and it made me almost pee myself laughing What else could I do but five star it Warning This book is totally not politically correct I won a copy of this book from First reads Yes, I know it was years ago I lost the damn thing and found it recently It does not effect my review at all I became Lansdale fangirl after I won it I participated in a buddy read with Dan 2.0 on this one He will probably give the book a one star and I will have to send a small person with an attitude to get him to change his rating He will also probably write a thought out review where as I just use pretty pictures Go check out his review when he ever gets it up.

  2. says:

    another great opening to a book I didn t suspect the day Grandfather came out and got me and my sister, Lula, and hauled us off toward the ferry that I d soon end up with worse things happening than had already come upon us or that I d take up with a gun shooting dwarf, the son of a slave, and a big angry hog, let alone find true love and kill someone, but that s exactly how it was.a great opening, but one that worried me nonetheless, seeming as it did to suffer from some of the qualities of folksiness and plucky teen narrator that i wasn t enad with in Edge of Dark Water.but while there were certainly some fun with similes attempts that strained my patience a bit She was so damn ugly she would have to sneak up on a biscuit and force it to be eaten with the point of a gun. Daddy always said Grandpa was so tight that when he blinked the skin on his pecker rolled back.etc, etc.this time, there were that actually worked for me, also involving faces, oddly that face, which was like a hatchet to the soul.and he had a face that was like a sack full of, about half of the time, i wasn t wincing at the flourishes which is a better percentage than before.our young narrator is as morally rigid as mattie ross in true grit as naive and stubborn and convinced that morality and decency will win the day and as about to learn a hard lesson.finding himself suddenly orphaned in east texas after smallpox kills his parents, 16 year old jack parker and his younger sister lula are on their way to live in kansas with their aunt, whom they have never met before they can make it across the river, their grandfather escort is murdered and lula is taken by a band of bank robbers and general ne er do wells jack is determined to get lula back, and joins forces with the aforementioned dwarf, son of slave, and hog they will later be joined by a sheriff and a whore On the way to hunt down the criminals, jack repeatedly states that he does not want the men killed he just wants his sister back, and he knows that this does not have to end in bloodshed his fellow companions have seen a bit of the world s workings, and treat him like a curiosity, begrudgingly respecting his idealism, but knowing how this is all going to end You are so definite, kid Seldom right, but always certain along the way, encounter after encounter shows jack that the world doesn t play by love thy neighbor rules and might not recognize good intentions and turning of cheek he learns from his new friends, and hears their life s philosophies in the quiet hours Life isn t just black or white, here or there it s got some mud in it, and we re some of the mud.and Just a year ago I kept thinking this ain t fair, the way things have turned out for me Then it come to me clean as spring rain Life is just what it is, and it ain t fair at all and through all the bloodshed and frustration that things are not turning out as he had planned, jack hardens a little with every page, adapting his own morality to take in the realities he is discovering at every turn, but resentful of the world s cruelty I wished then that I was wasn t a man at all but a hawk, something with some kind of integrity about what it killed, that did it for food or survival, not for sport or revenge or to satisfy something rotten is a very bloody book and also a very funny book and the lessons are hard won, and all the plucky little folksyisms are worn down to hard little nubs by the end of jack s moral awakening and it earns all of it i really liked this book, and it has re ignited my interest in lansdale a definite should read for most of you

  3. says:

    There are some great characters here An eclectic

  4. says:

    When his grandfather is murdered and his sister kidnapped by outlaws, young Jack Parker goes looking for vengeance With a four gauge wielding man named Eustace, a midget sharpshooter named Shorty, and a hog named Hog, he goes hunting for Cutthroat Bill and his gang Will he survive long enough to find his sister I got this ARC from Netgalley Thank you, Netgalley Although it only took two damn months for my request to get approvedHere we are, the 36th Joe Lansdale book I ve read The Thicket is part True Grit, part coming of age tale, and all Joe Lansdale.The plot of The Thicket is simple enough It s a tale of a young man s coming of age and quest for vengeance In the wake of his parents death from the pox, Jack and his sister Lula are traveling with their grandfather until they run afoul of some outlaws Jack survives and meets up with Shorty and Eustace and the tale kicks into high gear.The usual Lansdale mojo is in full effect The dialogue is a kind of redneck poetry of profanity and clever similes Lansdale s ear for dialogue always surprises me I could easily hear the same dialogue coming out of people down at the local Wal Mart And the violence, oh, the violence There s a steady stream of violence, dolled out like appetizers, until the main course, the bloody shootout at the end.The characters Jack meets on his adventure are a colorful bunch, from Eustace, the man of mixed blood that wields a damn cannon, to Shorty, the educated little man who is a crack shot, the scarred sheriff Winton, to Jimmie, the whore with a heart of something resembling gold that teaches Jack a few tricks, both in and out of the bedroom.Since it s a Lansdale book, no one gets out unscathed The gunfights didn t feel like Hollywood gunfights at all, chaos than anything else The entire cast was changed, either by the carnage or by becoming dead.Lansdale is one of the authors I feel like I would get along with based on his writing Where George Pelecanos and I would probably spent time discussing music, I could see myself bullshitting with Uncle Joe on my back porch with a couple beers and some BBQ on the grill.That s about all I have to say It s one of the better Lansdale books in recent memory so just read the damn thing

  5. says:

    I received a free copy of this from NetGalley At the tail end of the cowboy days in East Texas, sixteen year old Jack Parker and his sister Lula have a helluva bad week After their parents die in a smallpox epidemic, their grandfather is murdered by a gang of bank robbers who kidnap Lula The only help that Jack can find is a grave digging black man named Eustace and the tiny bounty hunter Shorty Along with a giant hog, they set out to rescue Lula Jack tries to hold to his Christian beliefs that the gang should be caught and tried, and he is horrified at Shorty and Eustace s willingness to kill and ignore common decency in the name of a greater good, namely their own As they meet victims of the gang along the trail and see how cruel they truly are, Jack starts to realize that there s no way to get Lula back without getting blood on his hands and that his traveling companions may have a better understanding of the world than he does His young puritan ways are also tested when he meets Jimmie Sue, a hooker with a heart of gold who takes a liking to him.There are elements of this story that will probably sound familiar to anyone who has read or seen one of the two film versions of True Grit with a young person venturing into a hostile wilderness with some salty frontier types, but Lansdale also adds some bizarre and violent turns that feel like Django Unchained at times.My favorite part was the character of Shorty He may be the smallest member of the posse, but he s the smartest and hell on wheels with a gun in his hand He s also a misanthrope who came by it honestly after a lifetime of dealing with people who treat him like a freak or a child, and he gets most of the best lines in the book.It s also got all the hallmarks of Joe Lansdale with a profane sense of humor that provides plenty of action but with a sense of responsibility about the damage done by all the violence In fact, my one complaint about the novel is that it s a little too Joe Lansdale.If you ve read his Hap Leonard series, then a lot of this will seem somewhat familiar in that you ve got some characters who while being the good guys are perfectly content to dish out punishment if they feel it s been earned while someone provides a softer hearted conscience that urges some compassion In fact, this isn t even the first Lansdale book to feature a little person involved in a vicious pistol whipping along with a strange wild animal bonding with people since he worked similar stuff into Rumble Tumble.However, if the worst thing I can say about it is that it s a typical Joe Lansdale story, then you know you re still getting an entertaining tale.Also posted at Kemper s Book Blog.

  6. says:

    The fact that this is written by Joe R Lansdale pretty much guarantees a good time The fact that the first sentence contains the words gun shooting dwarf that s just icing on the cake.Jack Parker is a fine, upstanding teenager who dislikes violence, yet soon he will be hiring two brutal men to find the villains who ve killed his grandfather and stolen his sister.Morally upright kids in a sudden quest for vengeance may seem a familiar theme Yeah, yeah, I read True Grit, too , but believe me you ve never read it the way Lansdale writes it I felt in that moment as if I had come unstuck from life and that I was somewhere outside of the real world, in some insane place where common decency and the laws of men were just silly things, like lace pants on a donkey My eyes turned wet My bowels went loose I didn t know if I should move or stay still, and was uncertain I could do either.The two hired men are Shorty, the aforementioned gun shooting dwarf, and his pal Eustace, a tracker Reminiscent of Lansdale s Hap and Leonard, they deliver some great dialogue, not to mention righteous beatings to all who require them Throw in a pet boar with a mind of his own, a hooker with a sense of humor, and a few misfits, and you ve got yourself a great cast of characters headed for certain doom Fatty said the rest of them, with your sister, are heading over into the main of the Big Thicket Over there beyond Livingston, down in the brambles and the high ass pines It s a bad lands there, down in them deep dark woods There s lots of colored who have run off there to trap and live, and there s lots of outlaws, too I know some colored that left here to go there, and I ain t never seen them since Law don t like to go in there, cause lot of time they do, they don t come back That s where we got to go if you want your sister back, and there ain t nothing else for it If that paragraph is not warning enough, now might be the time to tell anyone unfamiliar with Lansdale s style that the man is not shy about visiting dark places One minute, you will be laughing at someone s clever quip, but the very next sentence may leave you flinching at the nasty, violent turn that things have taken There is a high body count, and bad things happen to all manner of animals.That s not to say there is no humor in this book I particularly enjoyed the banter between Shorty and Eustace Eustace smiled, he reached out and touched Shorty on his hatted head like he was a little boy I get killed, you can have any of my dung you find along the way while you re following I wanted you to know that You may proceed to diddle yourself, Shorty said.If you like a great adventure, plenty of action, and don t mind a little blood shed, this is a fantastic read, and quite simply, one of Lansdale s best.

  7. says:

    Find all of my reviews at Goodreads buddies have been trying to get me to read The Thicket since before it even came out because an ARC was available for request , but I resisted because Well, partially Also because I really am not a fan of westerns Even though Ron 2.0 assured me this wasn t a real westerny western and Shelby had 5 Starred it, I didn t end up requesting this one until I became addicted to the library s Read to Reel Challenge and discovered this fine gentlemen has been cast in a hopefully soon to be made film version The story here is about Jack Parker, an almost grown man who is on his way to live with an aunt in Kansas after his ma and pa die from the pox when his granddaddy is killed and his sister is kidnapped by bad guys Recruiting the help of a gravedigger, a dwarf, a whore and a hog, The Thicket then becomes about Our job is to rescue her, kill the hell out of the man who stole her, and collect a reward If it came to my enjoyment of the story, this one would rate fair to middlin I wasn t lying when I said I don t like westerns And while this one was on the cusp of being not too westerny, it still featured chasing marauders and complaining about crotch chafing from horse riding enough that my attention waned a bit However, there is just something about Joe Lansdale that is impossible not to love Mainly the fact that he demonstrates that he believes While the subject matter was a tad serious, The Thicket definitely had a bit of a Blazing Saddles vibe to it and I have no option but to give it 4 Stars because Lansdale can write like nobody s business and Shorty will go down as an all time favorite character Also because if I don t my drinking buddy said he won t be friends with me any longer Plus this book proved something Mitchell has been telling me for years And at this point I m pretty sure he s not just stating it for trivia, but as a threat Still reading the Winter Reading Challenge theme because I can

  8. says:

    Around the turn of the 20th century much of America may be on the cusp of civilization, but East Texas is still a wild, feral, and ever dangerous place which Jack Parker s about to learn the hard way Our story opens to a smallpox epidemic sweeping through town, leaving sixteen year old Jack and his sister, Lula, orphaned After burying the bodies, and torching the house, their grandpa packs em into the wagon, and they all head north to their aunt s farm up in Kansas It s not long in their travels, before they re accosted by some bad men on a ferry, and that s when the real story begins Minor spoilers below After an argument grows heated, Cut Throat Bill and his gang of outlaws murder Jack s grandpa, and kidnap Lula Fate intervenes to prevent Jack s tale from ending right then and there, but he s by no means capable of rescuing Lula from a group of hardened thugs He aims to garner the help of the local sheriff, only to discover him murdered by the same gang The cowardly deputy is hightailing it outta town, but fortune shines down on the lad once again, when he chances upon a large colored man and his big ole hog.Eustace ain t just a grave digger he s also a part time bounty hunter and tracker He agrees to assist young Jack, as long as his partner, a midget named Shorty, is willing to tag along for the ride Shorty, the real brains of the outfit, is than willing to put in a little work for the steep reward Jack s offering up This ain t exactly the type of posse our boy was hoping to round up, but time s a wasting No tellin what horrors have already been exacted upon his poor sis, so beggars can t be too choosey.This book was a hoot, in some ways it felt like a last adventure to close out those wild times Unlike the original Dan, I haven t read the entirety of Lansdale s work, but of the four I have read so far, this one is hands down my favorite And one I would highly recommend As the cover blurb mentions, it s equal parts True Grit and Stand by Me, with a colorful cast of lively characters who play well off of each other If you ve read any Hap and Leonard, then you know what you re in for with Shorty and Eustace.The story itself isn t all that original it s essentially a coming of age tale, where Jack is confronted with the harsh realities of the real world, and put to some tough moral dilemmas His virtuous nature is stretched thin by his world weary companions But it s those comedic flourishes that really elevate the story, and add a great deal to the overall adventure Even the gunfights, instead of being an intense life and death affair, are usually a comedy of errors While I greatly enjoyed myself, I m still hesitant to hand out a full 5 stars Not only because I m a bastard, but for three minor quibbles One, the writing felt a bit clunky at times, but that may have been intentional, due to the fact that Jack is the one telling the tale Two, they built up the actual Thicket itself to be this backwoods death trap, but it never quite lived up to the hype I was expecting, at minimum, an attempted bushwhack or two Three, Lansdale chose to tack on a mini obit for most of the characters, within the last few pages of what, up to that point, had been a day in the life type of adventure I prefer it when my heroes can live on in my imagination I could forgive one, maybe two of those transgressions, but not all three 4.5 stars Falls just short of GR s it was amazing rating, but well within that goldilocks zone , and I reserve the right to round up Impromptu buddy read with the Monkey Queen.

  9. says:

    By turns violent and hilarious, The Thicket is Joe R Lansdale in peak form.The book is set in East Texas, early in the Twentieth century, just as the oil boom is reaching that area Sadly, a smallpox epidemic has swept through the region, and sixteen year old Jack Parker and his fourteen year old sister, Lula have lost their parents to the disease In the company of their grandfather, the children are leaving Texas to live with a relative in Kansas But the journey has barely begun when a group of savage bank robbing outlaws kills the grandfather and abducts Lula Jack runs to the law, but the sheriff has been murdered the deputy has been frightened into resigning, and so Jack his left to his own devices if he is to rescue his sister.He teams up with a group of accomplices that only the mind of Joe R Lansdale could conceive They include a bounty hunting midget, an alcoholic grave digger who keeps a feral pig as a pet, and Jimmie Sue, a prostitute who winds up sweet on young Jack The villains they are pursuing are as dark and amoral as anyone could imagine, and Jack is constantly reminded by his new found friends that even if they do recover Lula, she will doubtless have been very ill used in the meantime To say that the author has created a number of memorable characters here would be the understatement of the year.The manhunt takes a number of twists and turns, and the story, which is vaguely reminiscent of True Grit, rolls along without the slightest boring moment to a smashing climax From start to finish, it s a true Lansdale epic that will appeal to any of his fans, old or new.

  10. says:

    4.5 stars This book was wonderful Granted, it had some very nasty language and racial epithets, but these rang true for the time period Other than that and what I felt was a slightly predictable ending, this book was just fantastic and I m sad that it s over.You can get a description of the story from every other review and the book description, so that s all you ll hear from me about that On to the good stuff the characters This book is populated with such a colorful cast, all of whom I can see in my mind clear as day The bad guys were as clearly drawn and hated as the good guys were vivid and loved I wanted to hug all the folks on the good side and that includes Hog The narrator, Will Collyer, was absolutely fantastic His voices were wonderful and it was easy to tell which character was which He gave them character, and somehow added a touch of reality to them, as well as a level of depth Or maybe that was Mr Lansdale that did that Or maybe it was the combination of them both Either way, this book was great The audio was wonderful, the characters truly memorable, and I find myself hoping that I can find another book authored by and narrated by these same guys Because if I can, I m in You should be in too Seriously, you should Recommended to all adults that love westerns.