Of Mice and Minestrone

Hap and Leonard The Early Years

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Pub Date 28 May 2020 | Archive Date 22 Jun 2020

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Description

A brand-new Hap and Leonard series collection chock full of Joe R. Lansdale’s inimitable blend of humor, mayhem, and insight, Of Mice and Minestrone delivers never-before-seen stories, a selection of the boys’ favorite recipes, by Kasey Lansdale, and an introduction from New York Times bestselling crime author Kathleen Kent.

“An absolute treasure trove for Hap and Leonard fans.” —Ace Atkins, author of
The Shameless

“Of Mice and Minestrone is classic Lansdale at his legendary best . . . Compelling. Hilarious. Poignant.” —
NY Journal of Books

Today’s Special: Justice, East Texan-Style

Hap Collins looks like a good ol’ boy. But even in his misspent youth, his best pal is Leonard Pine, who is black, gay, and the ultimate outsider. Inseparable friends, Hap and Leonard climb into the boxing ring, visit their families, get in bar fights, and just go fishing—all the while confronting racists, righting wrongs, and eating a whole lot of delicious food.

So pull up a seat and sit a spell. Master storyteller Joe R. Lansdale—along with Kasey Lansdale’s down-home recipes and Kathleen Kent’s introduction—has cooked up a new passel of tales for you about the unlikeliest duo East Texas has to offer, created by his own self.

About the Hap and Leonard short story series
Hap and Leonard
Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade
The Big Book of Hap and Leonard (digital only)

Lansdale’s duo made their screen debuts in the three season Hap and Leonard television series, starring Michael K. Williams (The Wire), James Purefoy (The Following), and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men).

A brand-new Hap and Leonard series collection chock full of Joe R. Lansdale’s inimitable blend of humor, mayhem, and insight, Of Mice and Minestrone delivers never-before-seen stories, a selection of...

A Note From the Publisher

About the author: Joe R. Lansdale is the Edgar Award-winning author of more than eighty novels and short story collections. He has won multiple awards in crime, Western, fantasy, and horror fiction. His work has appeared in films and on TV shows such as Hap and Leonard, the film Bubba Ho-Tep, and Batman: The Animated Series. Lansdale lives in Nacogdoches, Texas.

About the author: Joe R. Lansdale is the Edgar Award-winning author of more than eighty novels and short story collections. He has won multiple awards in crime, Western, fantasy, and horror fiction...


Advance Praise

Praise for Of Mice and Minestrone

“Five stories, four of them new, filling in more of the early years of that imperishable East Texas duo, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. . . .The dialogue throughout is worth the price of admission, not as stylized as Elmore Leonard's but laden with the same irresistible combination of relaxed badinage and playful threats that sometimes spiral into serious consequences while still remaining playful. The 17 down-home recipes contributed by Lansdale's daughter, Kasey, many of them as chatty as the stories, are a bonus.” 
Kirkus 

Of Mice and Minestrone is the last bit of connective tissue missing from the Hap and Leonard Mythos, which is one of the most entertaining series in modern literature. This book, which deals with abuse, friendship, violence, growing up, race, food, and justice, is full of the wit that's made Lansdale a star.”
—Gabino Iglesias, author of Coyote Songs  

“There’s a place in East Texas where story shades into memory, where violence and tenderness are just part of the wonder of living, and that’s precisely where Joe Lansdale lives, and writes from, and we’re all the better for it. The eating's pretty good there, too, as Hap's recipes more than attest. You leave this book hungry, both for food and to start the whole series all over again, live through it one more time, maybe just live there a while.”
—Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels and The Only Good Indians

“Of Mice and Minestrone is classic Lansdale at his legendary best . .  Compelling. Hilarious. Poignant. Readers have waited a long time for this collection to finally appear. It was well worth that wait.
—New York Journal of Books

"I enjoyed every tale in this collection. The best was the title story which was pretty dark and incredibly sad. I really need to read more of Hap and Leonard’s adventures if this book is an example of what they get up to."
Book Lover's Boudoir

“Of Mice and Minestrone is a must-read for all Lansdale devotees. If you somehow missed or avoided the previous Hap and Leonard novels or story collections—or are new to the works of this prolific and distinctive author—this anthology of stories from the duo’s early years is a wonderful introduction.”
—Bookgasm

“These stories evoke the likes of Elmore Leonard, and manage to feel so reflective that one can almost taste the food.”
—Green Man Review

“I didn't think about the corona virus at all when reading this, and I read it over two days, but could easily have done it in one. I wanted to savor the experience. I think you should too!”
—Char’s Horror Corner

“They’ll make you smile, and take you to a different place, a different time, and show you some of what was terrible and beautiful about it . . . Overall, a fantastic collection, for old hands, and new readers of the series alike."
—Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews

“Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, the leads in Lansdale’s long-running series, are a pair of mismatched East Texas roustabouts with a propensity for trouble. Hap sat out Vietnam as a conscientious objector, and Leonard was a marine. Leonard is also black and gay, no light burden in East Texas in the sixties. Their friendship is forged on the fact that both are outsiders who find in the other a kindred soul, despite their apparent differences. In these origin stories, they begin their friendship as teenagers, hanging out together and daring the world to separate them. They take on the training of a young black boxer with less skill than heart. Considering that the youngster could get himself killed against an older, more experienced opponent, Leonard takes the kid’s place with predictable results. Hap and Leonard also begin their unconventional career together, as battlers against injustice and racism in all their forms. As they battle, there is plenty of room for smart-ass humor, fisticuffs, broken hearts, and gunplay. Mostly, though, the Hap and Leonard adventures are grounded in friendship. Lansdale is the author of more that 80 novels and short-story collections for which he’s won numerous awards. He’s a master storyteller, and this short collection sets the stage for his most compelling characters.”
—Booklist

“Amply filled with humor, wisdom, and heart . . . An excellent addition to a great collection."
—Manhattan Book Review

“5/5 Stars. Delightful collection of stories with interesting introduction and bonus collaborative recipes.”
—Nonstop Reader

“While Lansdale’s work is as varied as the regions of Texas, there is one common link through all of it: his brilliant storytelling. I had only dabbled in the world of Hap and Leonard before this, but it’s safe to say that after reading this collection, I’m hooked, and will be reading more of these stories sooner rather than later.”
—Grimdark Magazine

“All-in-all, an excellent pairing of crime writing tales, blood-soaked friendship, and Southern grits. Five out of Five stars.”
—Ginger Nuts of Horror




Praise for Of Mice and Minestrone

“Five stories, four of them new, filling in more of the early years of that imperishable East Texas duo, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. . . .The dialogue throughout...


Marketing Plan

Promotion targeting mystery, crime, thriller, and Texan media and publications • Regional Texas, national, and international author appearances • Consumer and trade advertising / co-op / media • Planned online interviews, blog posts, and author and publisher social media • ARC giveaways on Goodreads, NetGalley, and Edelweiss

Promotion targeting mystery, crime, thriller, and Texan media and publications • Regional Texas, national, and international author appearances • Consumer and trade advertising / co-op / media •...


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ISBN 9781616963231
PRICE $15.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 39 members


Featured Reviews

Those familiar with the East Texas legend of Hap and Leonard will thrill to hear stories of their teenage years. For this of us not necessarily that familiar, it's still a worthwhile jaunt. Like an odd couple version of Starsky and Hutch, with one White, one Black, one straight, one gay, Hap and Leonard's Of Mice and Minestrone offer a countrified set of tales that you just enjoy hearing. And they are tales of the pair of them dealing with some of the Jim Crow era divisions, sparring with the champions, and camping out. Told with intelligence and witty humor, all are a joy to read.

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Even though this goes from before Hap met Leonard to just after war/prison Hap and Leonard this is a great read for fans of the series. there are multiple great short stories staring one or the other or both. As a fan of the series I always check to see when more Hap and Leonard is coming, I was upset that sundance canceled the live action tv show and was really hoping one of the streaming services would pick it up as a original series, Sadly all we have is the books to fill the void and thankfully Joe always provides a winner when it comes to these two. The stories take place between the late 50s and mid to late 70s racial slurs sexism and everything that existed in this era is present. It keeps the stories true and helps people understand that not everyone even those surrounded by things like the Democrats anti segregation views in the 1950s weren't always participants. These stories shouldn`t be thought of as a verbatim ideal of how life was like, but more a picture of how life was in one specific location in the south and events of course are dramatized for sales. Highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a really good buddy read.

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Joe R. Lansdale is an author who is not only prolific but consistently adept at whatever genre he chooses to spin his tales. The backbone of his works is the Hap & Leonard series which currently stands at 12 or so books. How can you not love these guys? Hap is a philosophical white guy with a strong moral code & Leonard is tough, gay black man with an iron will. Growing up as best friends in east Texas, neither should have survived the ingrained racism & prejudice of the Jim Crow era. Lucky for us they did. This collection of short stories takes us back to their early years. Hap is our travel guide & as he recounts these 5 vignettes, you get the feeling he’s shaking his head in mild amazement. He now grasps the significance of things that his younger self missed. Like the security of family, the mystery of his profound connection with Leonard & the importance of a good hot sauce. The stories run the gamut. Funny, disturbing, poignant & violent…it’s all here. So grab your iced tea, pull up a chair & sit a spell as Hap reminisces about the good old/bad old days that shaped their friendship. There’ll be pie at the end. With real meringue, not that whipped cream crap. The Kitchen: Hap is about 6 yr. old & recounts how extended family would gather at his grandmother’s with enough food to feed the county. The tradition of story telling is in the spot light & my God, I was starving by the end of this one (how can I be craving grits? I’ve never even had grits.) Of Mice & Minestrone: Hap is 16 now & working at the local police station/jail for the summer. The racism is flagrant & it tells of his first brush with domestic violence & how it was “handled” by the cops. (And just as an aside, I may never have soup again 🤢) The Watering Shed: Leonard comes on the scene & it’s the beginning of a friendship that breaks about a dozen rules of acceptable behaviour at the time. Sparring Partner: Further adventures of Hap & Leonard in the summer before graduating high school. It highlights the real threat of not acting white enough or black enough but also shows how decency & kindness can pop up in surprising places. There’s a wry humour that runs through all the stories but this one had some of the best lines. For example, Leonard takes Hap to an isolated old barn where they meet a group of black men. Needless to say, Hap kind of stands out. “Leonard,” the big black man who had been doing the yelling said. “What the fuck is this?” “It’s a guy named Hap,” Leonard said. “He’s white.” “Oh shit. You’re right.” The Sabine Was High: Hap & Leonard meet up again after being separated for a time. While Leonard went to Viet Nam, Hap was in prison for dodging the draft. It sets up an interesting dynamic as the two swap stories of their experiences during a day of fishing. Lansdale's atmospheric style makes for effortless reading. The dialogue is lean & the prose can swing from brutal to tender in a heartbeat. It's clear he loves these characters & you'll be rooting for them too as you fall under his spell. A must read for fans of the series.

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Loved, loved this, short shores of ‘the boys’. I don’t normally read short stories because I don’t like short stories BUT Lansdale writes his so well conceived from plot to characters it’s as fulfilling as a novel. I read constantly but I can count on one hand how many authors use language so visually yet tight. Every word is a joy to read in Lansdale’s hands Thank you publisher and netgalley for allowing me this arc

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I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I've read most of the Hap and Leonard stories, and Blood and Lemonade is probably my favourite of these. Of Mice And Minestrone is very much on the same lines - short stories from Hap Collins as a youth, giving context and backstory to his life and his relationship with Leonard Pine. Joe R Lansdale is a phenomenal writer, and the first short story - a simple account of a Collins family dinner - had me tearing up. The writing is simple, heartfelt and evocative. As ever, the relationship between Hap and Leonard is absolute friendship goals, and even teenaged Leonard has enough wit and snark to make you giggle in that inimitable way of his. Lansdale also adds Hap and Leonard's recipes to the end of the book, for a fully fleshed out experience. If you love Hap and Leonard, read this book. If you like Hap and Leonard, read this book and fall in love with them. If you've never read Hap and Leonard, what <i>have</i> you been reading?

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A delicious collection of short stories for Hap and Leonard fans old and new. For the old fans, (like myself) you learn more about the things that made Hap grow into the person he is. For people new to Hap and Leonard, this is a good introduction to a great series. The stories added depth to the wonderful relationship, and I breezed through them in one sitting. After the stories, I was pleasantly surprised to find recipes for some of Hap and Leonard's favorite treats. I cooked Hap's - Death by Chili for supper last night and it was delicious. Although, I would recommend putting your toilet roll in the fridge for the morning after! Thanks to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for providing me with a free digital copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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Joe Lansdale is a wonderful writer with a gift for description and characters. This book of short stories is about series characters Hap and Leonard in their early years. If you aren’t familiar with the novels, I recommend reading them too. This book has a bonus of recipes that I will be trying out.

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Hap and Leonard are the best "buddy" characters of all time. Don't like them, then I might not like you. But I still might like you anyway.

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I have always been a fan of Joe R. Lansdale and his Hap & Leonard stories and this is a great addition to the story about them. I must give thanks to Tachyon Publications and Baker & Taylor. For those that haven't tried any books in this series you better start right now and add this one to your tbr pile.

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Hap and Leonard are among my favorite fictional characters and I'm always excited to be reunited with them. Of Mice and Minestrone is fun and enlightening, especially if you're like me and wanted to know a bit more of Hap and Leonard's history. The first few stories are from Hap's point of view and they added to my perspective of him. It seems that he was born with his sense of right and wrong. His parents are barely mentioned but they must have had a big impact on his life, because by his teen years he had a clear sense of what was justice and what wasn't. I enjoyed watching him put his beliefs into action, even when the end result wasn't what he expected. The high points for me in this collection were two-fold-the first being THE SABINE WAS HIGH. We join with Hap as he picks up Leonard, fresh back from combat in Vietnam. I loved this story so much, because at its heart is a friendship between two people that shouldn't even be speaking to each other at that time in history, never mind being best friends. With Hap being a Vietnam War protester, and having gone to prison for his beliefs, everything we've ever been told about Texas, the South in general, about war protesters and war veterans, between straights and gays, all of it goes out the window. There is a true love there, transcending all the labels and ugly things, and that love is beautiful. SPARRING PARTNER was the other standout tale for me. Both Hap and Leonard had experience boxing early on-just working out, and with Hap learning some martial arts moves. Here, though, the outside world learns a lot about the skills both of them possess. Filled with the humor and dialog that I have grown to love over the years, this story once again brought home Hap and Leonard's unique sense of justice. There are 6 stories here, but the last one features Kasey Lansdale and some recipes for the foods eaten during the various tales, so it's not a narrative , exactly. But even the recipes are funny, "beat it like you're running from the police", (not an exact quote as I'm not allowed to quote directly from the book with an ARC), but you get the idea. It's not everyone that can make recipes funny. I originally rated this 4 stars, but thinking about it overnight-I decided to change it to 5. I didn't think about the corona virus at all when reading this, and I read it over two days, but could easily have done it in one. I wanted to savor the experience. I think you should too! The only caveat to that would be that I recommend you reading the Hap and Leonard series in order. If you do, these tales will be that much more meaningful-providing insights into the lifelong friendship of Hap and Leonard. My highest recommendation! *Thank you to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for providing an e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!

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It’s that time again: when I take a few minutes to stop trying to convince all of you to go and read whichever cool SF&F book is on my desk at the moment, and instead try and convince all of you to read the next Hap & Leonard book. Joe R. Lansdale has been writing these books for quite some time now - I think there’s now something in the area of twenty books, and three seasons of a TV show. The series, centred around the titular old-poor Texan Hap, and his “brother” Leonard, Vietnam veteran, black cowboy extraordinaire, and lover of vanilla cookies, has quite a pedigree. What it also has is a sense of adventure, an ability to show the reader a good time without compromising on the narrative values which it wants to put across, and some concisely but precisely crafted characters who you might not want to meet in a dark alley, but are startlingly human with it. This collection of short stories, Of Mice and Minestrone, digs into the backstory of the dynamic duo. Leonard, fresh from the army, and Hap, fresh from prison as a conscientious objector, are trying to live their lives - peacefully, quietly, they’ll enjoy it. As usual, though, life has other plans. One of the things that makes this collection work is the sense of place. The dark, star-filled humidity of east Texas is vividly present in the mind’s eye. Small towns where everyone knows each other, for good or ill, are as much characters as the people who live within them. Those people are wonderful, too - not in themselves, because some of them are properly terrible, but in their humanity. Quiet, backwoods mafia bagmen stand cheek-by-jowl with down on their luck boxers, sullen bartenders and abusive husbands whose every-day evil is grimly palpable. It’s not all bad news, of course. In bars at the back of beyond, or in the quietly domestic family scenes of cooking and connection, there is room to show off the best of humanity. The world is familiar, populated with real people, but has a strangeness to it, delving into a Texas that feels as far in mindset, in time, as it is in geography from now. This is a place showcasing the best and worst of humanity, and we’re embedded in it, appalled by the latter, luxuriating in the former. Hap and Leonard are the stars, of course, and you can’t fault them for it. The chemistry between the two leads is intense enough to crackle in moments of stress, but comfortable enough that even in this early stage of their lives, they clearly know each other as well as best friends can. They’re just fun, are Hap and Leonard - starting bar fights, taking no crap from small town racists, sitting around having a big bowl of chili. They’re a comfort to all of us, a certainty in uncertain times, that good, or at least goo-ish, can triumph, and that one small corner of the world is the better off for having them in it. These are stories for people who’ve already absorbed the small-town charm of the series, already know that blend of comfortable friendship, refusal to back down to bullies, and the occasional kinetic arse-kicking. But you could dip in as a new reader too, and find them just as entertaining, these tales. Give them a whirl - they’ll make you smile, and take you to a different place, a different time, and show you some of what was terrible and beautiful about it. (Also, there’s recipes for so much Texan home cooking on here, and it all, yes all, tastes delicious; a great resource on lockdown). Overall, a fantastic collection, for old hands, and new readers of the series alike. Go out and give it a try, you won’t regret it.

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Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard, The Early Years is a collection of 5 short early Hap & Leonard stories (4 are previously unpublished) by Joe R. Lansdale. Due out 29th May 2020 from Tachyon, it's 240 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. Hap & Leonard are a force of nature. The stories are often violent and hysterically funny (often at the same time and with a suddenness which leaves the reader with whiplash). Lansdale is such a capable writer that I can simply go along for the ride knowing that he knows where we're going and I can just look around and enjoy the scenery. And what scenery it is. There's a real-ness and credibility to the settings and characters that *must* be from the writer's stored experiences. He's simply a virtuoso storyteller and I love his work. These 5 stories are all worthy of the canon. High quality, spare, and fighting fit, they're of Hap alone and then later on teamed up with Leonard. The stories are introduced with an essay by fellow Texan Kathleen Kent and followed by some tie-in recipes (by Kasey Lansdale) taken from the narratives. Even the recipes are written with a wry humor. Recipe ingredients are listed bullet point with American standard measures (no metric). None are pictured, all seem as if they'd be delicious (with the possible exception of texas sweet tea, I think one needs to have been born and raised there for it to be drinkable - though in the recipe collaborator's defense, she does list sugar and lemon as optional). Delightful collection of stories with interesting introduction and bonus collaborative recipes. 5 stars. For readers unfamiliar with Hap & Leonard, it might be advisable to read some of the earlier books. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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‘Hap Collins looks like a good ol’ boy, but from his misspent youth on, his best compatriot is Leonard Pine: black, gay, and the ultimate outsider. Inseparable friends, Hap and Leonard attend family gatherings, climb into the boxing ring, get in bar fights, and just go fishing—all while confronting racism, righting wrongs, and frequently eating delicious food.’ I have to be honest, I haven’t read a Hap and Leonard book until now, and I can’t think of a better place for a new reader to start their journey into this series than beginning with this collection, OF MICE AND MINESTRONE HAP AND LEONARD THE EARLY YEARS—Loved It! The quips between the characters are at times laugh out loud hilarious, a couple of my personal favorites from ‘Sparring Partner’ are: ‘Shit, Hap. Hit that fucker any harder; they’d have to put a monkey and some Tang on board with him so he could circle the fucking moon.’ ‘Bus yelled to the kid as he headed out of the barn. “You couldn’t be a boxer if they spread your ass with salad spoons and stuck Sugar Ray Robinson up there.”’ In the conclusion of this collection, Kasey Lansdale provides you with recipes from the various short stories in the book titled GOOD EATS: THE RECIPES OF HAP AND LEONARD KASEY LANSDALE, which begins with ‘HC’s Iced Tea’... ‘I decided it might be best to ease you in slow. Like training wheels on a bicycle, see if you can get yourself a batch of iced tea together without putting an eye out before we move on to something more lavish.’ But, my personal favorite, other than ‘Death by Chili’, is ‘Minnie’s Minestrone Soup’ —special ingredient optional, though I caution against it unless...Sorry, No Spoilers! ;) There’s just something about books that center around life long friendships, the bonds that never break no matter how much time has past or distance between friends measured in miles alone, that brings a relatable warmth in my heart. If you’re already a fan of Hap and Leonard or just beginning your journey as I am, I highly recommend delving into OF MICE AND MINESTRONE HAP AND LEONARD THE EARLY YEARS by Joe R. Lansdale. Thank you, NetGalley and Tachyon Publications, for loaning me an eGalley of in exchange for an honest review.

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Hap and Leonard are probably my favorite literary characters of all time. I discovered them on a recommendation from a friend, starting with the first book "Savage Season" and I loved it so much that I read through the entire H&L catalog in a week. So when a new collection of Hap & Leonard stories comes along, it's always exciting for me because I always enjoy them. This one is no exception, especially since I hadn't read any of these stories before. And they were all fantastic! The recipes at the end are a fun addition, too. Highly recommended for fans of Hap and Leonard!

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I am fairly new to the world of Joe R. Lansdale only having previously read his novel The Bottoms. In saying that, Of Mice and Minestrone was obviously my first experience traveling down to East Texas along the muddy banks of the Sabine RIver and hanging out with Hap and Leonard, and boy have I been missing out. This is a collection of six prequel short stories that give us glimpses into the youthful years of Hap and Leonard. Back when black and white boys weren’t supposed to be talking to each other, let alone be best friends. Back when a loud and proud gay black man was unheard of. Reading these stories felt like coming home. Like sitting on the back porch surrounded by loved ones, a glass of ice cold lemonade in hand, and listening to the chirp of crickets serenade the setting sun. This was down home comfort food for the mind. Joe R. Lansdale has a magical way with words that makes it feel like he is an old friend sitting across from you, and you are catching up on years long past. Hap and Leonard are a dynamic duo, like Batman and Robin. Their whity back and forth banter is fantastic and brought a bit of levity to some of the more serious situations they find themselves in. They are more than just friends, they are brothers. They might not always see eye to eye but they have a deep respect for one another. These are two characters that I fell in love with over the course of these stories and am so glad that I have a whole series of adventures that I can tag along for. From trying to be a knight in shining armor coming to save a damsel in distress, to a bar fight gone wrong, earning some extra cash in the boxing ring, to just sitting down fishing and relating horror stories from time spent in Vietnam and prison. These tales show the amount of care of depth that have been poured into these two, from showcasing their moments of triumph to hinting at their darker inner demons. If I had to pick a favorite story from the collection I think I would have to choose Sparring Partner. Not only was it a fun and entertaining tale but it also had the perfect balance of youthful innocence mixed with the harsh realities life can throw at you, like an unseen sucker punch. Last but not least I wanted to speak on the final story Good Eats. This isn’t a traditional narrative but a collection of recipes for foods found throughout the rest of the book. These aren’t just straightforward recipes that you’d find in your average cookbook. They are told with a conversational flare that gives them character all their own. Darkly humorous, violent, gritty, and at times poignant southern fried tales from the Jim Crow south that will leave your reading appetite hungry for more. I cannot recommend Of Mice and Minestrone highly enough and I will definitely be reading the rest of the Hap and Leonard novels.

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OF MICE AND MINESTRONE: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years Joe R. Lansdale Tachyon Publications ISBN-13: 978-1616963231 Trade Paperback Thriller I have been reading Joe R. Lansdale practically from the jump --- that being his debut novel ACT OF LOVE in 1991 --- and am still trying to catch up. Lansdale cuts a wide swath across and through multiple genres and media to the extent that one wonders if perhaps there is a building somewhere in east Texas where a multitude of unknown though extremely talented writers labor 24/7/365 to feed the collective maw of readers whom Landsdale has acquired over the course of four decades. Lansdale might be best known, at least in some circles as the creator of the iconic duo of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. Lansdale has been sharpening and defining this pair of odd-couple friends over the course of several novels (some of which have been adapted for a television series) and short stories since 1990. The newly published OF MICE AND MINESTRONE: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years is a must-have (mostly) original short fiction collection of which partially pulls back the veil on their early encounters, a kind of “child is father to the man” retrospective which --- no surprise here --- contains some of Lansdale’s best writing to date OF MICE AND MINESTRONE consists of five stories, of which only one --- “The Watering Shed” --- has previously seen the light of day. One might assume that Hap and Leonard’s past was informed exclusively by violent acts. As is demonstrated by two stories in OF MICE AND MINESTRONE, one might be wrong. “The Kitchen” concerns a family visit to Hap’s grandmother’s house. It is noteworthy that nothing noteworthy occurs. There are no knife fights, no voices raised in anger, no displays of fisticuffs. It’s a beautifully simple description of a visit among loved ones, told through the filter of Hap’s keen eye and memory. Fans of H & L will not want to skip it; they may want to save it for last, just to savor it. Similarly, there is nothing in particular in “The Sabine Was High” to make the heart race. It is a tale of Hap and Leonard as young men, meeting after a two-year absence of circumstance. They go fishing, not as a means of re-acquaintance since such is not needed, but because it is what they do. Revelations, in and between the lines, abound for the reader. It also contains one of Lansdale’s most interesting and most subtle endings. That is not to say the OF MICE AND MINESTRONE is all quiet and full of platitudes. The previously mentioned story “The Watering Shed” is classic Lansdale by any name, and features a young(er) Leonard poking the tiger in a rural bucket of blood joint with a somewhat reluctant Hap backing his play. That things spin out of control can easily be predicted. The manner in which they do cannot. “Sparring Partner” finds Leonard drawing Hap into what is supposed to be an easy-money scheme which morphs into an unusual rescue mission of sorts, one in which Leonard’s talent and penchant for fisticuffs is put on full display at a relatively early age. A similar theme in a dissimilar setting is explored in the title story. A teenage Hap, ironically employed at the local police station, attempts to effectuate the rescue of an abused wife. The reader just knows that it will end badly. Lansdale’s magic is nonetheless on full display here, as the story spins and banks in unexpected directions with surprising results. It is a brain worm of a story, for sure. I am not kidding when I tell people that I would happily read Lansdale’s grocery shopping list if given the opportunity. I sort of get that chance in OF MICE AND MINESTRONE. As a bit of lagniappe, the collection includes “Good Eats,” a section devoted to recipes (provided by Kasey Lansdale) for the mouth-watering vittles which Hap and Leonard fang down on with regularity in this collection and elsewhere when they are not otherwise compelled by circumstance to kick ass and take names. It’s a great way to close a volume full of rough but sparkling dialog and memorable vignettes, which are exactly what brings Lansdale’s readers back, time after time. Recommended. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub © Copyright 2020, The Book Report, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Hap and Leonard. Anyone familiar with Joe R Lansdale's best friend saga of two very different men will tell you this is going to be a great read. Set in a Texas where neither of them meets the usual description of a Texan, the stories are funny, smart and totally relatable. 5 shirt stories that fill in some of the "young" background for fans, these will keep you laughing and have you sharing the stories with your book buddies. An absolutely 5 star experience.

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Joe R Lansdale is an incredible talent. as ive said numerous times, he could write a phone book and id read it. this collection is no different. these hap and leonard stories are awesome and could be used as an introduction into one of the best series available anywhere.

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If you already know Hap and Leonard, then this is Hap and Leonard, the early years. They're just as charming, but with a little less experience under their belts, so maybe not quite as streetwise. Well, Hap isn't. These two besties fight for peace, justice, and the American Way and manage to gain a few enemies, a few bruises, and a few boxes of Nilla wafers. This particular volume of short fiction includes recipes of the guys' favorite foods, written up for you by Kasey Lansdale. Even though she doesn't sing them it's still good. It's Collins and Pine, so it's always good.

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