Saturday, January 7, 2012

THE BOTTOMS – Joe R. Lansdale


Late in blogging about The Bottoms. AC Adult Literati discussed this book early in December. I was not personally familiar with Lansdale and had not remembered the reviews so had no preconceived ideas of what I was about to encounter. My my, what a bloody and often quite shocking book! I would call it a southern, pre-civil rights, coming of age, murder, mystery. At one of his websites Lansdale is called a Mojo storyteller and The Bottoms is often called a mix of horror and mystery, which it is.

As a group we all jumped right in to discuss. No one made comments about not liking it or having adverse feelings which surprised me a bit as that often happens when a book has ugly parts. We were all repulsed early and yet drawn into the story with a need to finish it quickly.

The Bottoms has that ethereal, mysterious, foggy feel where half the time you feel disoriented and confused. Sometimes you are sure what is happening when a twist appears and you are no longer sure. Set in the 1933 bottomlands of the Sabine River, Texas this is horror, mystery, but also a tale of a boy learning to deal with adulthood in pre-civil rights South, learning right from wrong, and how to be a good man. Harry is an aging man when he relates to the reader his memorable pre-teen year when he and his sister discovered a body of a murdered and mutilated black woman. More murders ensue. Solving the crimes when black lives were not considered valuable and a black prostitute not worth investigating at all seemed almost impossible. There are suspects many. A new barber, the Klan, a young doctor, even Goat Man, a local mythological creature, are all suspect at one point or the other. Harry and his sister, Tom continue to roam the Bottoms alternately uncovering clues and putting themselves directly in the path of danger. A spunky grandma comes to stay and adds color and excitement to the story.

It was excellent. I read it on my Nook. I prefer to have hardcopies of book group books so I can leaf through and add sticky notes. The highlighting and noting in my Nook is too cumbersome.


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