Book Diary: Joe R. Lansdale – Rumble Tumble

Rumble Tumble by Joe R. LansdaleHap and Leonard, the heroes of Lansdale’s eponymous series are definitely among the oddest crusading couples to ever grace the pages of crime fiction. They are quite unlike each other in most things (a white former peace activist vs. a black homosexual Vietnam veteran), but share a long friendship and a deep-seated urge to do the right thing, not to mention lots of funny and colourful banter which makes for a large part of the fun in reading those novels (nobody since the days of screwball comedy does witty banter better than Joe Lansdale).

And this novel is very funny indeed, not just the dialogue but also the descriptive one-liners and wry comments by first-person narraror Hap Collins – as long as you do not think about what is actually being narrated too much. However, once you pause, take a  step back and consider the events, you’ll find that it’s actually all rather depressing – both Hap and Leonard, leading a mostly aimless existence in rather squalid circumstances, try to help Hap’s current girlfriend to rescure her daughter from forced prostitution, and in consequence get involved in lots of violence for likely no gain at all and at no small cost to their own health and well-being (although Rumble Tumble goes somewhat easier on them than previous novels in the series). Viewed this way, it’s not funny at all, even rather sordid, and I’m still not decided whether the presentation of the narrative distracts from this sordidness or enhances it.

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