The Thicket
Joe Lansdale
Mulholland Books 2013
325 pages

“We remember our lives as if they are fables.”

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale is a very interesting and entertaining adventure.  It is a genuine story of the often hard and gritty life and times of east Texas, just after the time of “the pox”, during the rare glimpse of motor cars, when residents remembered the plains buffalo, and might have rubbed elbows with Annie Oakley.

Sixteen year old Jack Parker and his sister Lula, having lost their beloved parents to the smallpox epidemic, are taken by their grandfather to live with their aunt.  En route, they encounter foul characters and equally bad circumstances which leave Jack alone and his sister abducted by three notorious criminals.

Jack bravely sets forth to rescue her, recruiting  Eustace Cox, a brilliant well-spoken former circus dwarf named Shorty, and a large four-footed porcine companion named Hog, promising them shares in his family’s land in exchange for their help, except for Hog, who wouldn’t really notice such a thing.

They are joined later by Jimmie-Sue, the quintessential prostitute with the heart of gold, and others who are driven by reward money.

The Thicket is a captivating tale, written in a style that is at the same time charming, sensitive, blunt and brutal.  Back stories are rich and interesting, with a definite feel for the characters and what drives and defines them.

Joe R. Lansdale spins a great yarn interjected with drama, excitement, pathos and humour; the latter presented in some of the most unexpected and unusual ways.  He is an excellent storyteller who pulls you right in and gets you hooked.

He has a beautiful poetic way with words, expressed in the philosophies and sentiments of his characters, e.g. “She aint gonna last any longer than it takes for a tear to dry.”  Other scenes contain graphic cringe-inducing material, or very clever phrases that sometimes make you laugh out loud.

It is said that a good writer describes things in ways never done before.  Lansdale definitely succeeds.

The Thicket By Joe Lansdale is a wild ride of adventure and contrast.  It is a well written and enjoyable read.