“Vanilla Ride” by Joe R. Lansdale

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“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.
Some examples:
“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.”
Or
“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.”

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