Tuesday, August 19, 2014

THE THICKET by Joe R. Lansdale


This was an entertaining, escapist story about a teenage Jack Parker who gathers a motley crew of unlikely heroes to help track down a gang of rough outlaws and save his kidnapped little sister. This is the first book I've read by the prolific Joe R. Lansdale, and in the vein of the classic True Grit, it's both a very enjoyable Western adventure and a great coming of age story. Are most of Lansdale's work like this? If so, I've got some more reading to do!

There are many other stories similar to the one you'll read in The Thicket. But Lansdale's easy writing really elevates it. He fills his story with an irresistible cast of well-drawn characters. I love how Jack doesn't a gather a bunch of hard, badass, Rooster Cogburn-types, but recruits a posse that many look at as being outcasts and a group that seem like they would fail from the outset. But as the story continues, you see that the group's heart and determination is what makes them extraordinary, and you can't help but root for them. And it's Jack himself that really gives the story it's heart and holds it together. It's a true coming of age tale, where we see that in this journey into the heart of darkness, he struggles with his values and beliefs as he realizes that he has to get down and dirty to save his little sis, even at the expense of his soul. 
To some extent I find sin like coffee. When I was young and had my first taste of it I found it bitter and nasty, but later on I learned to like it by putting a little milk in it, and then I learned to like it black. Sin is like that. You sweeten it a little with lies, and then you get so you can take it straight.
Great book. Read it when you can, you won't be disappointed.

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