The inaugural volume for what would become a six-part series is strong but not flawless.
Have I ever read a Nicholas Royle story I liked? No, and I didn’t much care for his “Rotterdam”, either. He’s obviously paying homage to H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Hound” in plot and story setting, but it’s really just a crime story with the Lovecraft connection being Joe, the screenwriter protagonist, in Amsterdam to scout out locations for a possible adaption of Lovecraft’s story. He’s hoping to ingratiate himself with the producer so his own script will be used on the project. What he really wants to do, though, is to get the job to write the screenplay of his own published crime novel, Amsterdam. The world of film production is interesting as are Joe’s less than successful interactions with its more successful members. We get some echoes between Joe and Lovecraft with Amsterdam being sort of autobiographical in the way Lovecraft’s essays are. And, after a bout of drinking, Joe wakes up to a body in his room. No supernatural horror here.
Nor was I impressed by Michael Cisco’s “Violence, Child of Trust”. There’s no cosmic horror here in a story that has a rural cult that captures and sacrifices (after the occasional rape) women to some god. I will grant the ending did surprise me.
Raw Feed (1991): Razored Saddles, eds. Joe R. Lansdale and Pat LoBrutto, 1989.
“Thirteen Days of Glory”, Scott A. Cupp — This tale of what the defenders of the Alamo were really like — homosexuals trying to set up an independent homeland in Texas — wasn’t shocking ( and I’m not sure it was supposed to be), but it was kind of funny — particularly the image of the Alamo defenders dressed in women’s clothing, made-up faces, and jewelry taunting their Catholic opponents. There’s a bit of historical inaccuracy in the admittedly figurative reference to the Inquisition. It was suppressed in 1834, two years before the Alamo.
“Gold”, Lewis Shine — Protagonist Malone wants Lafitte’s pirate treasure to compensate for his poor youth, to provide independence from his wife’s fortune, and to realize his political goals. Malone realizes that gold has a life of its own apart from its owner. He finds himself adopting beliefs alien to him simply to further his ultimately futile political goals. Shiner is reiterating common beliefs in art: that money can’t buy happiness, that the compromises a good, ambitious man must make to gain power corrupt him, that power and money seek to perpetuate themselves and have a will of their own. They are often true but not necessarily so. But to have things turn our well for Malone would not be as dramatic. The story is, in a sense, a coming of age tale as Malone learns the lessons of life that Lafitte already knew.
“Sedalia”, David J. Schow — This was an ok story of dinosaur ghosts (and then real dinosaurs) returning to the world in our time. The major attraction of this story was the scenes of dinosaur mayhem and Schow’s clever style and western dialect. The dinosaur roundup wasn’t that interesting. Continue reading →