A Thin Dark Line

by: Joe Lansdale

It's 1958, in a small town in Texas.

You're seeing things through the eyes of innocent 13-year old Stanley Mitchell, Jr. Stanley just happens to discover a cache of old love letters. Which happen to have be written from one woman to another.

At the outset, Stanley doesn't even know about sex. (For a 13-year old boy, even in 1958, this is a stretch...) And in one short summer, he is exposed to not just sex (a "filled" condom is discovered in his sister's bedroom), but racism, murder, homosexuality, child abuse, spousal abuse, pedophilia and incest, and alcoholism.

Oh, and just by the way, the "bad" guys are the rich daddy, the conniving sheriff, and the crazed religious zealot.

I know the writer set out to create the next To Kill a Mockingbird.

What he did is grab every cliche he could find off the cliche shelf at the Stop and Go, toss them into a pot, simmer, and voila: an admittedly well-written but completely unbelievable stew of steamy southern predictability. I have to say that when I got to the part about the "killer abusive religious nut daddy" wielding a sythe, I could only imagine a C horror movie, where the motivations are paper-thin and off-the-shelf.

Too bad the book takes itself so seriously!


Popular Posts