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Joe R. Lansdale, phrase maestro

August 22, 2008 |  8:43 pm

Lansdale_2 Joe Hill raves about Joe R. Lansdale, left. The editors of "Steampunk: An Anthology" rave about him. So does the guy running the fan site that calls him "the greatest writer to come from Texas." Our reviewer, Del Howison, raves about Lansdale's new novel "Leather Maiden" in Saturday's paper.

For my money, if any movie producers don't like the dialogue in their scripts, then I'd tell them to hunt up Lansdale and pay him well to fix them. When I first read Lansdale in "Steampunk" (the long story included there has the nifty title "The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down"), shoved along by Hill's blazing enthusiasm, I could not get over the wild humor and the vivid, outrageous turns of phrase that are a Lansdale trademark.

Lansdale's not someone who worries about mixing metaphors or taking a sharp left turn into the surreal. Consider this description of an old editor managing a smalltown Texas newspaper, which Howison quotes from Lansdale's new novel:

Her face was eroded with deep canals over which a cheap powder had been caked, like sand over the Sphinx. Her breasts rested comfortably in her lap; they seemed to have recently died and she just hadn’t taken the time to dispose of them. I took her age to be somewhere between eighty and around the time of the discovery of fire.

Lansdale has made some forays into the movie business already, but not that much. I wouldn't want him to leave fiction behind, but I also wouldn't mind hearing lines like these delivered by the right actor.

-- Nick Owchar

photo credit: Karen Lansdale/Alfred A. Knopf

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