By Joe R. Lansdale
This is a collection of tales that Lansdale calls “a garage sale”, bits of this and that. I’d have to say A Fist Full of Stories is better than a garage sale because everything here is valuable.
A number of the stories appearing in Fist Full have also been included in Bumper Crop (another collection that Lansdale modestly considers as odds and ends). “Bar Talk”, “Listen”, Billie Sue”, and “Old Charlie” all display Lansdale’s style of swift set up and punch that characterized his early work. “Master of Misery” is a minor epic of macho martial arts and mayhem, while not as fully developed as the lunatic intensity of The Big Blow, it is a gripping action tale.
Also included is the sixth chapter of Two Bear Mambo, a little bit of Big Thicket legendry (for those readers who ain’t from Texas, the Big Thicket is a damn big swamp). The articles are a couple of Lansdale rants and several reviews from “Trash Theater”, a column that Lansdale and David Webb wrote for the speculative fiction magazine, Cemetery Dance. These are some of the funniest, laugh-out-loud pieces in the book, mostly because they really have nothing to do with the movies they are reviewing (though I REALLY want to watch Dolomite now!).
While Lansdale’s reputation rests on his later works such as “The Pit” or “By Bizarre Hnads’, his earlier work is by no menas to be despised. All in all, this set is a pretty decent fist full of Lansdale.