This collection of Joe R. Lansdale stories represents the best of the “Lansdale” genre—a strange mixture of dark crime, even darker humor, and adventure tales. Though varied in setting and theme, all the stories are pure Lansdale—eerie, amusing, and occasionally horrific. In “The Pit,” modern gladiators square off against one another using Roman methods. An alternate-history tale called “Trains Not Taken” shows Buffalo Bill as an ambassador and Wild Bill Hickok as a clerk. Lansdale’s love of large lizards and humor are evident in the stories “Godzilla’s Twelve Step Program” and “Bob the Dinosaur Goes to Disneyland.”
The career of Joe R. Lansdale has spanned more than twenty-seven years, in which period he has written over two hundred short stories. This collection is the best of these. As Lansdale states in his Introduction, “. these stories are the ones I think best reflect my work.” Some of these are obviously horrific ab initio: others, the realization will slowly, surely creep upon one. Others will visit alternate history, humor, or dark crime. Mixing the impossible, the improbable, and the never-before-thought-of, Lansdale uses his innate East Texas storytelling abilities to perfection. As an added bonus, each story starts with an introduction by Lansdale, describing the story-behind-the-story.