Friday, August 26, 2011

Short Story Spotlight: "The Big Blow"

"The Big Blow" by Joe R. Lansdale (Mad Dog Summer: And Other Stories)

OK, technically it's a novella (that was later expanded into a novel), but this Joe R. Lansdale narrative is a perfect one to delve into this weekend as Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast of the Macabre Republic.  "The Big Blow" details an epic boxing match involving real-life pugilist Jack Johnson, a bout suddenly trumped by the great hurricane that ravaged Galveston, Texas in the year 1900.  The novella is fast-paced (building to a surprising but rewarding conclusion) and sports a cast of extremely colorful characters.  It's also as salty as the seawater that floods the streets of Galveston, with Lansdale walloping the reader right from the opening sentence: "On an afternoon hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock, John McBride, six-foot-one-and-a-half inches, 220 pounds, ham-handed, built like a wild boar and of similar disposition, arrived by ferry from mainland Texas to Galveston Island,a six-gun under his coat and a razor in his shoe."  Now, if that powerful hook doesn't inspire you to keep reading, you must have been knocked delirious by gale-force winds somewhere along the way.  "The Big Blow" ranks among the finest of Lansdale's tales. 

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