Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Fiction of Joe R. Lansdale

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Pub Date 15 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 12 Oct 2023

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Description

Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series) returns to the piney, dangerous woods of East Texas. In this career retrospective of his best crime stories, Lansdale shows exactly why critics continue to compare him to Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner.

Foreword by S. A. Cosby, author of the New York Times bestseller Razorblade Tears

Things Get Ugly is the kind of collection you never want to end—as it shows the versatility and command of the craft only a legend like Lansdale can execute.”
—Alex Segura, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Identity

In the 1950s, a young small-town projectionist mixes it up with a violent gang. When Mr. Bear is not alerting us to the dangers of forest fires, he lives a life of debauchery and murder. A brother and sister travel to Oklahoma to recover the dead body of their uncle. A lonely man engages in dubious acts while pining for his rubber duckie.

In this collection of nineteen unforgettable crime tales, Joe R. Lansdale brings his legendary mojo and witty grit to harrowing heists, revenge, homicide, and mayhem. No matter how they begin, things are bound to get ugly—and fast.

Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series) returns to the piney, dangerous woods of East Texas. In this career retrospective of his best crime stories, Lansdale shows exactly why...


A Note From the Publisher

Joe R. Lansdale (Savage Season, The Donut Legion) is the internationally-bestselling author of over fifty novels, including the popular, long-running Hap and Leonard novels. Many of his works have been adapted for television and film, most famously the films The Thicket, Bubba Ho-Tep, Cold in July, and the Hap and Leonard series on Sundance TV and AMC. Lansdale has written numerous screenplays and teleplays, including the iconic Batman: The Animated Series. He has won an Edgar Award for The Bottoms, ten Stoker Awards, and he has been designated a World Horror Grandmaster. Lansdale, like many of his characters, lives in East Texas, with his wife, Karen.

Joe R. Lansdale (Savage Season, The Donut Legion) is the internationally-bestselling author of over fifty novels, including the popular, long-running Hap and Leonard novels. Many of his works have...


Advance Praise

“A potent blend of stories from one of the all-time greats, Things Get Ugly is the kind of collection you never want to end—as it shows the versatility and command of the craft only a legend like Lansdale can execute. There’s a reason Lansdale is among the greatest, and this book showcases his knack for shady characters, rural noir, and an innate ability to get to the heart of what drives us all. A can’t-miss book.”
—Alex Segura, bestselling author of Secret Identity

“Lansdale’s writing hits like a brass-knuckled punch to the face: Hard and nasty and visceral. This collection of nineteen ugly stories shows the master of the crime thriller at the height of his formidable powers.”
—Marc Guggenheim, creator of Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow

“Wildly entertaining, binge-worthy, and a total escape from hum drum reality, Things Get Ugly is pure Joe Lansdale on terrific display. In this collection of his greatest crime fiction stories, Lansdale's scalpel-sharp wit and prose will have you cackling one minute while it chills you to the bone the next. A rollicking, sometimes haunted trip through his piney-woods soaked noir landscape, Things Get Ugly confirms that Joe Lansdale is to crime fiction what Willie Nelson is to country music: wholly original, genre-defying, raw, gritty, soulful, and lastly, timeless. I could not put this book down!”
—May Cobb, author of The Hunting Wives

“As Matt Damon’s character Sonny Vaccaro says in his final climactic pitch to Michael Jordan in Air, ‘the rest of us just want a chance to touch that greatness.’ When you read Things Get Ugly, you will do just that.”
Strand Magazine

“The spiritual heir to both Walt Whitman and Elmore Leonard, Joe R. Lansdale is the bard who sings America: in gem-hard, polished prose that never lets up, no matter how ugly things get. As they do indeed in the seminal retrospective that is Things Get Ugly, where vicious people do vicious things to each other beautifully. It should stand next to Leonard’s Three-Ten to Yuma as a remarkable testament to the power of short fiction.”
—Lavie Tidhar author of Maror and Central Station

Things Get Ugly is packed page by page with writing lessons for both beginners and old pros hoping to improve: Get right to it. Keep it moving by surprising. Trust the English language to observe as closely as Joe's line, ‘thin and flexible as a feather.’ The man can write.”
—Justin Scott, author of the Ben Abbott mysteries

“If there is a writer with a more distinct voice, I don’t know them. When Lansdale turns his pen to crime stories you get his signature wild imagination, humor as dark as the bottom of a well and characters who live and breathe (the ones who make it out alive, anyway). Selected from across his epic career, Things Get Ugly burns like backwoods moonshine going down. A best of Joe R. Lansdale is a best of the genre—full stop.”
—Eric Beetner, author of There and Back

“Of all my writing, the short story is my favorite form of expression,” says Lansdale, and his joy shows in the exuberant invention of these noirish tales. A few of them, like ‘The Steel Valentine’ and ‘Six-Finger Jack,’ are unpredictable but routine, and a few others, like the spooky ‘The Shadows, Kith and Kin’ and the supernatural 1958 private eye story ‘Dead Sister,’ play more to Lansdale’s wide-ranging interests than to his storytelling strengths. But even entries that don’t entirely come off, from ‘Mr. Bear’ (a man develops a surprising friendship with the psycho bear who sits next to him on a plane) to ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ (a pair of kids who ‘feed off each other’ descend into a pit of sex, drugs, and depravity), are fueled by some wildly deranged premises, and the best of them, like the supershort ‘The Job’ (an Elvis impersonator is hired as a hit man) and ‘The Ears’ (a third date is spun into a nightmare by a casual discovery), strike a note of giddy brutality other authors would find hard to match. If there’s a general weakness here apart from some sex scenes even kinky readers may find disturbing, it’s Lansdale’s fondness for killing off virtually the entire cast of so many entries. Even so, the hits keep on coming. Though the final twist in ‘Santa at the Café’ is the most predictable of all, the climactic twist in ‘Incident On and Off a Mountain Road,’ probably the single strongest story here, will stay with you for a long time.”
Kirkus

“[Things Get Ugly] assembles nineteen of his best crime stories and is a real delight for any genre fan and lover of strong, dark fiction. Lansdale's stories are always engrossing, able to grab and maintain the reader's interest from beginning to end.”
Gumshoe Review

“One of my favorite things about reading Joe Lansdale at all is the sense that anything could happen at any point—that genre restrictions don't really matter that much, and that we can whiplash between horror and comedy, thriller and drama all effortlessly. That goes double for his short story collections, which by their very nature can display a wide array of talents and genres.”
Umney’s Alley

“You’ll want to take the day off, settle into a comfortable chair (or onto a barstool, you do you) with a tumbler of good scotch within reach, and prepare yourself to get lost in one of the best collections of crime fiction I’ve ever read.”
—Dave Writes and Draws

“Yes, these stories are gritty, earthy, violent. They combine horror, noir, and pulp-fiction. They will push you to the edge of your comfort zone, and leave you feeling a little squeamish. But good writing and good storytelling should provoke a reaction. They are also BRILLIANT.”
Bibliotica

5/5 stars. “Things Get Ugly is a masterclass on short story writing
The Clueless Gent

“I found this book to be disturbing and insane, yet somewhat thrilling.”
—Real World According to Sam

Joe R. Lansdale has written hundreds of short stories but these are the cream of the crop! Highly recommended!”
—GeorgeKelly.org

My favorite aspect of Lansdale’s work is his sense of humor; he makes the goriest details hilarious. It’s a gift.”
—Dayton

Praise for Joe R. Lansdale

“A folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace.”
New York Times Book Review

“A terrifically gifted storyteller.”
—Washington Post Book Review

“Like gold standard writers Elmore Leonard and the late Donald Westlake, Joe R. Lansdale is one of the more versatile writers in America.”
Los Angeles Times

“A zest for storytelling and gimlet eye for detail.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Lansdale is an immense talent.”
Booklist

“Lansdale is a storyteller in the Texas tradition of outrageousness . . . but amped up to about 100,000 watts.”
Houston Chronicle

“Lansdale’s been hailed, at varying points in his career, as the new Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner-gone-madder, and the last surviving splatterpunk . . . sanctified in the blood of the walking Western dead and righteously readable.”
Austin Chronicle

“A potent blend of stories from one of the all-time greats, Things Get Ugly is the kind of collection you never want to end—as it shows the versatility and command of the craft only a legend like...


Marketing Plan

  • Select outreach to leading crime, mystery, and thriller print and online reviewers and editors
  • Mystery/Thriller/Crime genre specific outreach to the trade and media outlets
  • Social media advertising campaign to include Instagram book tour and influencer outreach
  • Email marketing campaign and ongoing promotion
  • Promotion along with Joe R. Lansdale backlist titles
  • Custom book trailer and video graphics including 3D jacket images
  • In-person events to include regional Texas, U.S., and European venues
  • Galley and finished copy giveaways on Goodreads and through author and publisher
  • Select outreach to leading crime, mystery, and thriller print and online reviewers and editors
  • Mystery/Thriller/Crime genre specific outreach to the trade and media outlets
  • Social media advertising...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781616963965
PRICE $18.95 (USD)
PAGES 336

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Average rating from 35 members


Featured Reviews

Things Get Ugly by Joe R. Lansdale is not for the faint hearted but if the reader is a fan of his, this is a fine collection of stories as only he can write.

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My friends, mark down August 16, 2023, on your calendar, app, post-it note, written it in lipstick on your medicine cabinet mirror, or however you keep track of such things—that’s when Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Stories of Joe R. Lansdale releases. You’ll want to take the day off, settle into a comfortable chair (or onto a barstool, you do you) with a tumbler of good scotch within reach, and prepare yourself to get lost in one of the best collections of crime fiction I’ve ever read.

There are 19 stories here, each one a poisonous gem, and before I call out a few individual stories, some general thoughts:
• Because Lansdale is so versatile, and so prolific, it’s easy to forget just how good he is in the various genres he calls home. He is, without a doubt, a master of crime fiction.
• The title Things Get Ugly is extremely apt—These are dark, dark stories that explore the ugly side of life, the sordid alleys of human existence. Believe me when I tell you that these are harrowing tales teeming with revenge, murder, and all manner of appalling behavior. There aren’t really any heroes here, just criminals of different shades and degrees.
• Having said that, the profane, laugh-out-loud humor Lansdale is famous for is very much in evidence. Gallows humor, but still humor.
• Because I’ve read my fair share of Lansdale, I was afraid I’d find that I had read many of the included stories. Happily, that was not the case. These stories are drawn from throughout Lansdale’s long career, and most were new to me. And the ones I had read before, I still found myself diving right in, like visiting old, much-loved but ne’er-do-well friends.
• Although the Hap and Leonard novels and stories certainly fall into the category of crime fiction, those two gentlemen do not make an appearance here. They have their own much-deserved story collections (Hap and Leonard, Born for Trouble, Blood and Lemonade, Of Mice and Minestrone). If you haven’t read them, why the hell not? Get on that.

On to some of the stories. I’m not going to mention all of them (every one hits hard and strong), but here are a few of my favorites:

Driving to Geronimo’s Grave
Yes, this one involves a rotting corpse, but it’s one of the lighter stories in the collection, and it’s damn funny while still keeping the tension ratcheted up.

Mr. Bear
I can’t even begin to describe Mr. Bear. No, seriously. There’s an anthropomorphized bear with some terrible habits. Bad, bad things happen.

The Shadows, Kith and Kin
This one drags you kicking and screaming into the mind of a killer. Left me feeling very unsettled.

I Tell You It’s Love
Lansdale plays with pulp fiction tropes throughout this collection, and I Tell You It’s Love is one of the pulpiest. Short, sordid, and brutal.

Boys Will Be Boys
A portrait in acid of two teenage boys on the road to hell. Deeply disquieting, it feels like something Andrew Vachss would have appreciated.

Drive-In Date
Possibly the most disturbing story in the collection, and that’s saying something. You’ve been warned.

Incident On and Off a Mountain Road
I’ve saved my favorite for last. This is a stone cold classic, literally one of the best pieces of crime fiction ever written, with a twist you won’t see coming. Worth the price of the book all by itself.

Like I said, these are some of my favorites, but they’re all excellent, and your list of favorites may be completely different. As an added bonus, there’s an introduction by S.A. Cosby, one of today’s best crime writers.

Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Stories of Joe R. Lansdale is available for pre-order now. Don’t miss out on this one.

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One of my favorite things about reading Joe Lansdale at all is the sense that anything could happen at any point - that genre restrictions don't really matter that much, and that we can whiplash between horror and comedy, thriller and drama all effortlessly. That goes double for his short story collections, which by their very nature can display a wide array of talents and genres. That's why I was sort of concerned, in a way, about Things Get Ugly: The Best Crime Stories of Joe R. Lansdale - after all, by limiting Lansdale to one genre, wouldn't that hamper his creativity? But I needn't have worried about that; even within that seeming confining genre label, because even here, you get a sense of how wild Lansdale could be. Who else could take the "crime" genre and incorporate a story about Smokey the Bear going out for a wild weekend on the town? Or bring in the truly surreal (and hilarious - to me, anyway) reveal at the end of "Billie Sue"? You've got supernatural horrors, you've got noir thrillers, you've even got coming of age stories, and they all technically fit within the boundaries of crime. If there's a downside here, it's that this is pretty grim fare throughout; you don't get as much sense of Lansdale's dark sense of humor (though it still shows up here and there), and instead you are plunged into some of the darkest, most amoral and psychopathic characters. Stories like "The Phone Woman" and "Drive In Date" give us a window into the darkest parts of human nature, a window that reaches its starkest and most haunting and disturbing version in "Boys Will Be Boys," an excised section from his novel The Nightrunners. Add into that stories like "The Projectionist," about a young man whose place of employment falls into the crosshairs of extortionists, or Lansdale's famous "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road," and you get a solid window into Lansdale's work. I'll say that I think some of his other collections - The Best of Joe Lansdale and Bumper Crop - might be better senses of the man (and I'll add here that if you're a Lansdale fan, you've probably read a lot of these before), and that this one is pretty unrelentingly dark and not for the faint-hearted, but I've yet to read a bad work by Lansdale, and Things Get Ugly is no exception.

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Things get very ugly indeed. An excellent collection of short stories by a master craftsman, featuring dark thoughts, gritty locales and some of the nastiest characters I’ve encountered in crime fiction. Strap yourself in, it’s quite a ride. As an added bonus, JRL also introduces each story with a brief explanation of the story’s genesis. Maybe so we don’t get the idea that he’s as twisted as his stories.

Highly recommended.

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"Edgar Award winner and bestselling author Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series), one of America's most essential crime writers, heads back to the dangerous woods of East Texas. In his first crime career-retrospective, including previously uncollected work, Lansdale shows exactly why critics continue to compare him to Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Flannery O'Connor, and William Faulkner. "Pulpy, blackly humorous, compulsively readable, and somehow both wildly surreal and down-to-earth. Lansdale is a national fucking treasure." - Christa Faust, author of Money Shot

In the 1950s, a young small-town projectionist mixes it up with a violent gang. When Mr. Bear is not alerting us to the dangers of forest fires, he lives a life of debauchery and murder. A brother and sister travel to Oklahoma to recover the dead body of their uncle. A lonely man engages in dubious acts while pining for his rubber duckie.

In this collection of nineteen unforgettable crime tales, Joe R. Lansdale brings his legendary mojo and gritty, dark humor to harrowing heists, revenge, homicide, and mayhem. No matter how they begin, things are bound to get ugly - and fast."

If you've ever wondered, where should I start with Joe R. Lansdale, where here's your answer!

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I'm sure Joe R. Lansdale cannot write a bad or boring story. He can write stories that brings very far from my comfort zone, dark story, story where the dog dies or mix of all the possible elements.
But he always write great stories that make you face the darker side of life.. And always add a pinch of dark humour that makes you smile even if you are immersed in blood up to your here.
This is not a book for you if you do not want to read about the darker side of life or hate too much violence and gore
But if you want to read an anthology of excellent crime/thriller/noir/etc stories be read to get it and start a wilde ride
I thoroughly enjoyed it and strongly recommend it.
Many thanks to Tachyon Publications for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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In the second introduction to this collection of short stories, Things Get Ugly, the author, Joe Lansdale, states that he doesn’t use trigger warnings, which I appreciated, though I’d argue that that is a form of trigger warning. Still, if you haven’t read any of Lansdale’s previous work (I haven’t), you should know that his use of coarse language, rough sex, and extreme violence makes Stephen King’s work seem PG-13. So, yes, these stories are gritty, earthy, violent. They combine horror, noir, and pulp-fiction. They will push you to the edge of your comfort zone, and leave you feeling a little squeamish. But good writing and good storytelling should provoke a reaction.

They are also BRILLIANT. Lansdale’s writing is vivid and visceral. Even when I was confronted by content I would not typically choose (the first entry in this collection, “The Steel Valentine” would require an entire page of entries at Does the Dog Die, if it were included there), I could not stop reading. The characters leap off the page, capture you in a strangle-hold, and do not let go until you’ve finished their story.

For the most part, these are not people I’d want to meet, but the stories are quirky, original, and interesting. Sure, some of them, like the afore-mentioned “The Steel Valentine” feel like the violence is almost gratuitous, but then there’s “The Ears,” which is the kind of Hitchcock -meets-O. Henry thriller that I love, and “Billie Sue,” which manages to be poignant in places. “Santa at the Cafe” is perfectly layered, and truly funny, while “Dead Sister,” is a truly unique take on ghouls (and may I take a moment to applaud the author for understanding the ghouls and zombies are totally different things?) . And then there’s “Mr Bear,” which introduces us to a side of Smokey Bear (yes, that Smokey Bear) that I almost wish I could un-read, except that as dark and twisted as it is, it’s also perfect.

Things Get Ugly includes nineteen stories in all, each with a short introduction from the author. I’m not going to review every one of them. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea – or fifth of gin – but they’re definitely worth the time spent reading, and you can tell that the author put care into every word. The beauty of short story anthologies is that you can read one, skip around in the book, or even keep it for bathroom reading (though if you’re like me, your feet will fall asleep if you do that).

Goes well with: A juicy steak and a glass of Scotch.

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I recently heard the term gallows humor and that definitely sums up Lansdale’s writing. This was a strong collection filled with humor, gore and wit. “Driving to Geronimo’s Grave” was one of my favorites and I loved the brother-sister pair. ”Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” has a serious twist you won’t see coming. This collection isn’t for the faint-hearted but I think many readers will love it.

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This collection of short stories by author Joe Lansdale of Things Get Ugly, The Best Crime Stories of Joe R. Lansdale warns readers early on that he doesn’t use trigger warnings for his stories. If it did then the trigger warnings would overshadow the stories themselves.

His stories are a complex mixture of coarse language, sex, and violence that makes any Quentin Tarantino film seem tame.

The stories in Things Get Ugly are graphic and fierce, yet surprising. This collection of stories combines dark noir and pulp fiction into snippets that transport readers into a realm of Joe’s mind and writing talent. Some of these stories push you to the edge of your comfort zone.

One story stands out for me and that is the story of Ellen in the Incident on and Off A Mountain Road. Loved how he wrote this story that gave the brilliant, did not see coming, high-five ending. That could so be a movie in and of itself. Another favorite is The Shadows, Kith and Kin which is poetic, and yet haunting due to the character’s storm raging inside him and around him. It is in this story that Lansdale’s writing shines.

While these crime stories are harsher than Quentin Tarantino could ever imagine, I love how Lansdale takes the time to give insight into how he came up with these unique crime stories.

Things Get Ugly is a book that makes your skin crawl, until you come to Ellen’s story. Good writing and storytelling are meant to provoke reactions of either good or bad. If you want to sink your teeth into original, noir true crime then this book is a must. Also, I highly recommend you do not read this book before falling asleep or while riding a plane, in case the passenger sitting next to you glances over at your screen. They might interrupt and might start asking questions.

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Thank you to the author, Tachyon Publications and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The title got me interested, and I whipped through this collection of very short to shortish crime fiction from a much-decorated (but unknown to me until now) author. Dark, definitely ugly, some very nasty characters and some very disturbing, raw violence - and now I know why the author has received pretty much every award going. As with all collections, some stories appealed more to me than others, some I read and breathed a sigh of satisfaction, others I was glued to the page with incredulous horror. There aren't really any heros here, just degrees of ugly - but so readable.

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There’s a reason that Joe Lansdale is considered one of the top writers of mystery, suspense, and horror working today. That’s because he’s one heck of a storyteller.

You don’t have to like the horror genre, or the explicit gore that often pops up in his suspense, to appreciate the scope of his talent. In fact, I’m a reader who doesn’t particularly care for horror or graphic violence, but I can recognize, and appreciate, craft that is used so well, and I’ve enjoyed several of Lansdale’s books before this one.

Lansdale doesn’t pull away from tough stuff. Not human depravity. Not graphic violence. Not graphic sex. But he presents that to the reader in stories that pull you in, along with characters not easily forgotten. Then there are the descriptions that rise so far above the ordinary. A good example is this from the story Rainy Day. “The man shook the cigarette out, lit it and puffed. Smoke went up and over the man’s head and sucked out the window, as if it were in a hurry and had some important place to go.”

The first book of Lansdale’s that I read was The Bottoms, and I could see why it won The Edgar. It’s still one of my favorites. I’ll admit that I haven’t read all of his books as I don’t enjoy the ones that focus heavily on horror elements, but I could never fault the writing. His novels and short stories run a gamut of topics and styles and it’s always a pleasure to dig into one to see what’s in the offing. Lansdale can write in almost any genre and pull it off.

Every story in Things Get Ugly has some kind of twist, or two, and Santa in the Cafe had so many I felt like a pretzel after reading it. Never saw the surprise at the ending coming, but I should have, knowing how Lansdale likes to toss in a zinger just when you think the story is over. That was one of my favorites in this collection.

I also really enjoyed Driving to Geronimo’s Grave, a story that has two young kids driving a dilapidated old car to Oklahoma to pick up Uncle Smat’s dead body that is currently residing in a hen house. Set in the Depression Era, the time and place were an integral part of the story, and it was laced with humor that had me chuckling. That mix of sardonic wit and dipping into the dark side of humanity is a specialty of Lansdale’s.

Driving to Geronimo’s Grave wasn’t so much a horror story as a suspense, and maybe that’s why I liked it best of all the stories in this collection. If you’ve yet to give his books a try, I highly recommend starting with this one. Then maybe picking up The Bottoms and work your way down his list of published work.

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This is not a book for the faint of heart or stomach for that matter, the level of violence in some of these stories and the graphic descriptions could be off-putting for some. That said, these are all very well written and very good stories, considering they are short stories, the characters are developed very well. The author includes a blurb at the start of each story describing how he was inspired to write it, very interesting on its own. A couple of my favorites were 'The Steel Valentine' - a man takes his anger out on the man who was having an affair with his wife, didn't end the way he expected, 'Driving to Geronimo's Grave' - I especially liked the young girl in this story, she's quite the spark. A couple that I found more disturbing 'Boys will be Boys' - this two boys are the ones you never want to cross, 'Mr Bear' - this one was a little out there for me, the Bear is a riff on Smoky the Bear, but he's a real badass in this story. I would highly recommend this collection as long as you are not easily offended. Thanks to #Netgalley and #Tachyon Publications for the ARC.

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The most narrowing thing about this collection is its form; most patrons are inclined to read novels. But man, if you're looking for a book of crime short stories, you're not going to find much better than this. Lansdale is a legend in the genre, and the collection, while not exclusively his his best known work, is carefully chosen and paints a real picture and mood. I found it an absolute delight to read, and it's been a great gateway to leading library patrons back to Lansdale's novels -- in particular, Donut Legion, which came out earlier this year.

Definitely worth adding to public library collections.

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After reading these short stories by author Joe R. Lansdale, one thing became crystal clear: Joe R. Lansdale writes what Joe R. Lansdale wants to write. That may seem an odd thing to say, but between the words I’m telling you that this author makes no pretense of being “politically correct” with his stories.

Admittedly, this is my first experience with Joe R. Lansdale, and I think the title of this anthology—Things Get Ugly—says it all. I imagine that Lansdale’s fans accept this kind of writing from him. Those that don’t accept it—well, it’s their loss in my opinion.

Someone once said that it takes much longer to write a short letter than to write a long letter. I agree with this. However, I don’t think that fully applies to short stories and novels. But I definitely think that being a great short story writer takes a skillset beyond that used by average novelists. There is much less time for character development, less time to immerse a reader in a scene, and good pacing becomes something much harder to achieve.

I’m sure this is likely true of his other anthologies, but Things Get Ugly is a masterclass on short story writing. The story Dead Sister, for example, has some wonderful pacing. It’s a classic gumshoe tale with a supernatural twist. The author gets to the climax somewhat quickly, but then he prolongs that climax with the addition of a small disaster.

Santa at the Café is another great story! What I enjoyed the most was the number of plot twists that the author could squeeze into it.

I previously mentioned that this author does not worry about being politically correct, nor does he seem to worry about offending his readers. As I said, if you’re a fan, you accept this. For example, in one story two men are sent to beat up a grade school girl to teach a lesson to the girl’s father. Another story has a young man and his younger sister hauling the two-week-old corpse of their uncle in the back seat of their car during a Texas summer. (The description the author uses in that story is pretty ripe, I’ll tell you!) Another story touches on necrophilia.

Before each story, the author has a little blurb about how he came to write the following story. Maybe this is meant to show that some of the “subject matter” of the stories actually had some meaning to them. (That’s just a guess.)

I think my favorite story is Mr. Bear. In this story, there is a bear. But this bear is somewhat of a celebrity, and he walks and talks and does pretty much everything a human does, including having sex with humans. It turns out that the bear is somewhat despicable. I can understand how a story like this can ruffle some feathers (or fur, as the case may be), but I just tell myself that it’s only a story. Complete fiction—obviously. Some of the things they do in cartoons are also somewhat despicable if you take them out of context.

These short stories may not be fully enjoyed by everyone, but if you’re game to give this book a read and you have the thick skin to accept the innards at face value, I can say without any hesitation that you’ll enjoy it!

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A collection of short stories by Joe. Lansdale. If you have read any of his work then you are familiar with his work. Most of the stories follow along those same lines. I enjoyed most there were two that I did not care for but I am sure everyone has their own opinions. Berofr each story he gives a little history about it. The about Santa really stood out for me with the way he writes. Good book all the way around.

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Magnificent as usual! I didn't read it, I simply devoured it twice since August! Mr Lansdale just gets under your skin and then it's very very difficult to walk away from his genius...It's raw, it's juicy and it's simply mind-blowing! I would probably consider swimming across the Atlantic from overhere in Western Europe to get anything published by Joe! He is one of the best wordsmiths at work in the English-speaking World nowadays! Long live my Joe!

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I am not sure how I have never read anything by this author, but now that I have gotten a taste of his writing, there will be no turning back now!

I am generally not a crime story type of reader, but these short stories provide a twisted look at what could potentially happen if you let your imagination run wild. Take, for example, the story about a certain bear that many of us might remember from television commercials way back in the day to help prevent forest fires. Now take that same bear, and insert him into society as you would a human with a twisted sense of morality. The end result just might be this story.

I really enjoyed reading how he came up with the ideas for the stories. It gave me a sense of his thought process, but I by no means totally understand it! Writers are unique, and the stories they create will entertain or haunt us long after they are done.

The title of this book is also very appropriate because things do get ugly in most of the tales. However, you might uncover some witty moments that might surprise you. I remember chuckling through a few of the stories, surprised at the humor that was included. But sometimes, all you can do is laugh.

Each story is unique and varies in length. There is a warning from the author that if you are a sensitive reader, you might want to skip this book. I might agree. While none of the stories bothered me, I can see where it might bother some. But if you are open and not squeamish, you just might enjoy these tales.

We enjoyed this book and gave it 5 paws up.

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