Review: Dead on the Bone : Pulp on Fire by Joe R.Lansdale

“I was living in a pulp writer fury, a storm of imagination.” So Joe R. Lansdale, award-winning author of more than twenty novels and two hundred short works, describes the birth of his desire to be a writer after encountering pulp storytelling as a kid in TV, comics, and books. Now Dead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire collects eight stories where Lansdale pays tribute to the rip-roaring tales of his youth.

Dedicated to Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, “Under the Warrior Star” finds hero Braxton Booker on another, battle-wracked planet, while “Tarzan and the Land That Time Forgot” was expressly permitted by the Burroughs estate. In “Dead on the Bones,” a Conjure Man facilitates a boxing match between the living and the dead, with a twist. “The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lightning” crosses Poe with horrors that could have walked straight out of Lovecraft. Meanwhile, in “Naked Angel” a cop discovers a dead woman encased in ice on the noir streets of Los Angeles, not realizing he shares a personal connection with her. Other stories here bring readers face to face with vampires and far stranger creatures, all in Lansdale’s signature, Texas Mojo style.

Lansdale is rightly recognized as one of the most distinctive voices in modern fiction, pulp or otherwise. From Venus to vampires, Dead on the Bones is a fine, thoroughly enjoyable demonstration of why.

Table of Contents:

Pulp Fury: An Introduction

The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lightning

The Redheaded Dead

King of the Cheap Romance

Naked Angel

Dead on the Bones

Tarzan and the Land That Time Forgot

Under the Warrior Star

The Wizard of the Trees

Dead on the Bone: Pulp on Fire by Joe R. Lansdale. Published by Subterranean Press, 2016. Total of 294 pages.

*Trigger Warning: Animal death.

I am a huge fan of Lansdale. I think he is so underrated as an author. He is a verbal Texas ninja wordsmith! I never understand how he isn’t more of a name drop on book lists and in topics on forums / Reddit/ Facebook groups/ ect. I am also a huge fan of classic pulp fiction, as well as modern homages to the pulp genre. When I saw that one of my favorite authors wrote a book of pulp short stories, I knew I needed to read it!

Before we got to the stories, there is this great intro by Joe. He talks about the pulps he read as a kid, early days of TV, and a little bit about the history of both coming together. Now, honestly, I’ll admit it… I normally skip forwards. But this one was so great, so informative! I had such a wonderful time reading this forward. It was great and I highly recommend not skipping it. 🙂

Dead on the Bone is a terrific collection of stories! There were a few that I wasn’t a fan of, but not because it was bad. I just don’t really care for Tarzan or certain genres. All the stories are well done though. Joe totally nails the pulp vibe on every story. Every single one of them felt so authentically pulp! I loved it!

If you are a fan of classic pulps, you will enjoy this set of short stories. The stories span all different classic pulp genres. There really is something for everyone. I do want to address how there is a little bit of animal death, for anyone who doesn’t want to read that sort of thing. It was easy to skip pass and it was only a few sentences long, if even that. So it didn’t hurt the stories. This is a very entertaining set of stories.


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