Today’s theme is, “Desperation is the mother of contempt.” I know there is a tired, old, worn out quote—“necessity is the mother of invention.” But my versions better, especially when it comes to describing the tough guy heroes who bring bad guys to justice.
And no one demonstrates that better than Joe R. Lansdale.
“Vanilla Ride” by Joe R. Lansdale. (Knopf $24.95, 243-pages. Hard cover.) www.joerlansdale.com
Lansdale has long been a Grit-Lit favorite. A deserving writer who has not yet reached the Lee Child, David Morrell, James Lee Burke stratosphere.
Might be because his quirky, violent characters swear like politicians behind closed doors.
Could also be because one of them is gay. Hap, the big straight white tough guy and Leonard, the big gay black tough guy won’t have a Disneyland ride named after them any time soon. But, Lansdale’s writing is the slam-you-in-the-stomach-then-rip-out-your-spleen stuff that Quentin Tarantino wishes he could write.
“I hadn’t been shot at in a while, and no one had hit me in the head for a whole month or two, and I was starting to feel special.”
“Brett (Hap’s girlfriend) sat up and fluffed her pillow behind her back and pushed her long bloodred hair to the side, shoved her chest forward in a way that made me feel mighty lucky, and said ‘I haven’t had that much fun since I pistol-whipped a redheaded midget.'”
And one more. One of the very few “Vanilla Ride” paragraphs that that can be printed in its entirety in this fine family publication.
“I bit the guy I was fighting so hard I took part of his nose away. He let out a bellow and I leaped forward and poked a finger in one of his eyes. As he staggered back, I kicked and caught the inside of his kneecap and it made a pleasant sound like a drover cracking a whip. He fell with one hand on his face, the other clutching at his knee. I picked up my gun and walked over to him and shot him in the head.”
“The Night Monster” by James Swain. (Ballantine Books $26, 320-pages. Hard cover.) www.jimswain.com
In the third Jack Carpenter, Swain puts Carpenter in the usual dire straits. A former Broward County detective turned child abduction specialist Carpenter does whatever is necessary to bring missing children home.
Carpenter lives the ex-cop/private detective life. Broke. Estranged from his wife. Other than the barkeeper at the bar he lives above, his life centers around his daughter, Jessie, and his closest friend, Buster—a mean ol’ Australian Shepherd. To clarify, Buster’s a dog, not a big blond guy sunburned guy with a hooked stick and an accent.
Swain has a knack for creating heroic characters that you care about. And Carpenter is one of Swain’s best.
“The Miracle Seven” by John E. Peterson & Wendie Pett. (Bronze Bow Publishing. $14.99, 320-pages. Soft cover.) ww.bronzebowpublishing.com
Ever wonder how Grit-Lit tough guys—and gals—build those great big muscles? Sure Spenser and Hawk belong to a boxing gym. And Lee Child’s Reacher occasionally digs a swimming pool—with a shovel!
But just like you and me, they don’t have the time to hit the gym every day. These dudes are busy being shot, knifed, beat and abused. Then there’s all the time taken up by drinking and getting the girl. Pretty soon a twenty-four day is more worn out than a lie detector tied to a philandering politician.
The secret? Steroids? Nope. Viagra. NO! Not the Grit-Lit men!
Their secret is “The Miracle Seven.” Seven exercises you can do any time and any place. In the car on a stake out. Or a motel room while you’re waiting for the bombshell to slip into something more comfortable. Seven slow motion isometric movements, plus another 20+ versions to stave off boredom. The basic program takes about 20 minutes a day. Add some cardio, stretch a little and you’ll be ready to take on Rocky on his best day.