Cover Image: Radiant Apples

Radiant Apples

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Wow, another great read from Joe R Lansdale, his own self. I'm not sure I've hit a dud yet with him. Another Nat Love story, and can't wait for more. As always, great characters, great dialogue, great pacing. #RadiantApples #NetGalley
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Radiant Apples by Joe R. Lansdale- This is another Nat Love story, the black cowboy/ bounty hunter/ a law unto himself in the old west. Nat has hung up his guns, as age is catching up with him, and taken work on the railroad as a Pullman Car orderly. He's decided his wild days are over until a gang of young bucks robs the train and his son is one of them. The Railroad will pay him to hunt them down and he does, but it's really his son he is after. Filled of colorful language, fierce action, and always a bloody reckoning, this novella is an easy, entertaining read.
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"Radiant Apples" is a western set in 1919 in Texas and Oklahoma. It's apparently based off of a real man. There was a reference to Nat being the real Deadwood Dick (as well as several references to Dick in the lower case). Not only were the main characters crude in language, there was a lot of nudity. There were sex scenes (though not highly graphic), blood and guts (somewhat graphically described), and a fair amount of bad language. I guess I was expecting more of a biography/adventure rather than this very earthy story. Historical details about the man and what life was like at the time were woven into the story. The main characters were interesting. There was some suspense during the fight scene.
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This is fantastic.  This is the latest of several Nat Love stories, based around the life of a real African American cowboy in the post-Bellum era through the early 20th century.  This narrate an elder Nat’s pursuit of a gang of villains, both for money and to, perhaps, redeem his wayward son (and recapture Nat’s youth, too).  Joe Lansdale nails Nate’s wry, laconic voice. His narrative is flowing and smooth.  The story is perfectly paced and just the right length.  I will read any of his stories and will find the rest of his Nat Love tales.  Wonderful.
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Another great story from Lansdale.  Was great to visit with Nat Love again.  
got to meet some very nice characters as well, maybe some more stories in this world coming up.
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The Old West is gone but not forgotten in the latest tall tale by Joe R. Lansdale. The author lets a little air out of the myths of the Old West by offering up this fun, irreverent tale of what it MIGHT have really been like when the wild frontier tried to become more modern and "civilized".  

The year is 1919 and Nat Love aka Deadwood Dick, who previously appeared in the novella Black Hat Jack and the full-length novel Paradise Sky, is settling into middle-age. It's boring but he can't complain, he's got it pretty good all things considered. The children are all grown, he has a good job as a train porter, and an automobile that gets him where he needs to go... Not bad for the son of slaves.

Then, one day his train is robbed and Nat recognizes his own son among the outlaws. These outlaws, while violent and unpredictable, wouldn't amount to a boil on the backside of old time outlaws like Jesse James or Cole Younger, which is probably a good thing because Nat isn't a young man anymore. What he is, is experienced and more capable than anyone else who's available. So, Nat finds his old friend and tracker, Choctaw, and the two head off to see that justice is served.

This is not your grandfather's Western novel, but it may just be a lot closer to your great-great grandfather's real West experience. There are a handful of very fine illustrations as well.

Told in a folksy-style, with an occasional risque aside, like a conversation told at a family get together with the older, more worldly relative telling tales and having to be reminded from time to time that there are ladies and children present when details get a bit too "colorful".

Those familiar with Lansdale will find this a little less outrageous than some of his previous work. It's still not "tame" by any means but it keeps both feet more or less in the realm of reality. Great Neo-Western that is fun from start to finish. Recommend it highly.

***There is some content that might be offensive to overly sensitive readers.
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Some folks are natural born storytellers. Whether holding down the end of the bar in a hole-in-the-wall dive, or sitting around a campfire under a star-filled sky, when they start telling a story, every person within earshot hushes and strains forward, hanging on every word. The really good ones, the best ones, can weave castles in the sky, can coax a laugh from your belly and tears from your eyes, with just a few well-chosen words.

Natural born storytellers are rare. Even more rare is when one of them is also an excellent writer. This may sound counterintuitive. Dave, you may be thinking, aren’t all writers natural born storytellers? Thing is, I don’t think so. There are many wonderful writers, authors at the top of their craft, who I suspect would not be able to hold the attention of a bar full of drunks. They have learned to write, to tell a story, but they are not natural born storytellers.

Joe R. Lansdale, I suspect, would have those drunks hanging on every word.

Radiant Apples, his newest novel, is a masterclass in storytelling. Lansdale writes compelling crime novels, horror, fantasy, westerns, and probably shopping lists. Radiant Apples is a western, set in the very early 1900s. The main character and narrator, Nat Love, is now a fifty-something African American porter on a Pullman train, but he’s led an exciting, colorful life. Known as Deadwood Dick in his younger years, his past exploits as a buffalo soldier, bounty hunter, and Marshal for Hanging Judge Parker have been recounted in dime novels (somehow without mentioning that he was black).

Nat is settled in his current, uneventful life, until the train he’s working on is robbed by the Radiant Apple gang, a relatively inept but violent and just plain mean group of miscreants. Due in part to his former life, Nat gets hired to bring the gang in. He and his old running buddy, Choctaw, hit the road in pursuit. They’re both older, out of practice, and maybe a little slower on the draw. Lansdale orchestrates the climax of the novel, a gun battle on the streets of a corrupt Oklahoma town, like a true maestro.

Through Nat’s words, Lansdale brings all the gun play and danger in the wild and wooly west to vivid, breathtaking life. Nat may be a might cantankerous, but he’s also got more than his share of hard-won wisdom. Lansdale captures Nat’s voice perfectly, and Choctaw’s as well. They’re both funny, inappropriate as hell, and full of piss and vinegar. They may be rode hard and put away wet, but they’re honorable men, which doesn’t mean they’re not willing to kill men in need of killing.

Because this is Lansdale, you know he’ll have some things to say about race. Nat is black and Choctaw is biracial, black and American Indian, and Lansdale doesn’t shy away from the indignities they’ve suffered. As always, he’s clear-eyed and matter of fact.

Radiant Apples is Lansdale at his best, spinning a thrilling yarn that will keep you enthralled from first page to last. It releases November 30th, but do yourself a favor and pre-order this one. It’s special.
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A novella length Nat Love story. Nat is a black Pullman car worker/detective, working in the late 19th early 20th century. These stories are great in only the way Lansdale can make them great. Profane, fast paced, well written , historically accurate , and fun to read they cast light on a little known part of American History. Read this as well as all of Lansdale’s books. I have.
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Radiant Apples by Joe Lansdale is an illustrated novella of Nat Love, a porter on the Cotton railroad line out of Texas in the the late 1800s. Having lived a full, adventurous life he considers writing his memoirs of a certain time, being a man of color in the changing west, being a tracker and a Buffalo soldier, but mostly of having to track his own outlaw son, Rufus. The story is vibrant, witty, sometimes gruesome, such as life is at times; the only complaint about the book is that there is too little of it.
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Nat Love was "a spry fiftyish man with all my parts working and my brain rolling on all its wheels, though from time to time they squeak and a dab of grease might be needed". Nat Love, the son of slaves, a Buffalo Soldier, a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and a territorial Marshall for Hanging Judge Parker. Dime novels embellished his escapades in the Old West. "I used to be the famous Nat Love, at least in some tight circles, now I'm just Nat Love, fellow who works as a porter."

It started on the Cotton Belt Line in Big Sandy, Texas in the year 1919. "A day that broke my heart-but-set me back on the path to adventure and a reconciliation of sorts." The train stopped abruptly. Six robbers on horseback, including Nat's wayward son Rufus, boarded the train and gathered wallets and jewelry. Gunfire ensued. Rufus had embraced "the wrong trail" as his new home.

Law enforcement needed someone with "the old-time experience of riding the range, going without a bath, and eating grit in their food..." to capture the Radiant Apple Gang. The Radiant Apples were so named for the luminous cheeks of brothers Charlie and Lowe Albright, cherubic in appearance, but "explosively mean". Accompanied by Choctaw, his friend and a superb tracker, Nat would ride west to mete out justice, and perhaps, rein in and redirect his son, Rufus. The trip would be a reprieve of sorts, freedom for both Nat and Choctaw.

"Radiant Apples" by Joe R. Lansdale is a novella of historical fiction, a snapshot in the life of Nat Love, an African American cowboy, rodeo performer and Pullman porter. Told in a cheeky, playful style, Lansdale proves to be a masterful raconteur. A "Western fine art look" is provided by Ken Laager whose cover art and black and white illustrations arguably "portray western and adventure subjects...with authenticity". Highly recommended.

Thank you Subterranean Press and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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