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The Magic Wagon

The Magic Wagon

3.6 5
by Joe R. Lansdale

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When the Magic Wagon comes to town, folks get a genuine medicine show that includes a wrestling ape, fancy shooting, and a peek at the petrified body of Wild Bill Hickok himself. They also get bottles of a whiskey-laced elixir to drown their aches and pains. Old Albert drives the wagon, a rawboned youngster named Buster Fogg does the odd jobs, and "champion" trick


When the Magic Wagon comes to town, folks get a genuine medicine show that includes a wrestling ape, fancy shooting, and a peek at the petrified body of Wild Bill Hickok himself. They also get bottles of a whiskey-laced elixir to drown their aches and pains. Old Albert drives the wagon, a rawboned youngster named Buster Fogg does the odd jobs, and "champion" trick shooter and fast talker Billy Bob Daniels owns the show.

Billy Bob claims to be the illegitimate son of Wild Bill himself. As storms hover in their wake, our intrepid trio (and one ape) make their way to a Godforsaken hole named Mud Creek, an East Texas town where the dark cloud of fate hovers and violence looms in the shadows...

"I remember the night I picked up Joe Lansdale's The Magic Wagon ... it was the strangest Western I'd ever read, full of creepy-crawly stuff as well as gunfighters, straddling genres with authority, and it dealt with the human condition in a profound yet unpretentious manner that any sensible writer would envy." - Dean R. Koontz

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Crossroad Press
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388 KB

Meet the Author

Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in eighteen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies. He has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others. His novella Bubba Hotep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" was adapted to film for Showtime's "Masters of Horror." He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero. He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife, dog, and two cats.

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The Magic Wagon 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite a twist on the old gunfighter western. I like this author, and really enjoyed this book. Give it a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh so its a western?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though I¿ve read maybe a dozen or more westerns (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Louis L¿Amour, and Larry McMurtry) in my lifetime, I¿ve never been a big fan of this particular genre. I love western movies, but getting me to read a western novel nowadays is like getting me to pay a visit to the dentist¿s office when I have a cavity that needs filling. Now, as I¿ve said in a number of other reviews, I¿ve become addicted to the writings of Joe R. Lansdale during the last several months. This is one of those rare authors who is so gifted that he can literally write in any genre¿horror, mystery, suspense, children¿s, and even westerns. It¿s because of his talent and craftsmanship at telling a good yarn that I decided to read THE MAGIC WAGON. I wasn¿t sure if I¿d enjoy reading a western again after so many years away from the genre, but my faith in Mr. Lansdale¿s storytelling spurred me forward. It¿s enough to say that by page fourteen, I was hooked line and sinker, and ended up reading this short novel (155 pages) straight through in one setting. THE MAGIC WAGON takes place in 1909 and is the story of Buster Fogg, a fifteen-year-old boy who lost his parents in a Texas tornado. After the burial of his father (his mother was never found) and the local bank calling in the marker on the land that the family house used to set on, Buster decides that it¿s time for him to start making his own way in life. With an injured leg and a pair of crutches, he sets out on foot for town one morning in the middle of winter, hobbling his way step by step over the icy road. By noon he¿s ready to call it quits and let the cold take over his worn-out body when a red wagon, drawn by eight mules and driven by a big colored man, pulls up alongside of him. Old Albert, the driver, offers Buster a ride. At first the owner of the wagon, trick-shooting-artist Billy Bob Daniels (he claims to be the illegitimate son of Wild Bill Hickok and is perhaps the fastest man alive with a gun), is against the kid coming along with them, but soon gives in begrudgingly to Albert¿s wishes. And so begins Buster¿s journey of adventure and to becoming a man as he travels from town to town on the Magic Wagon with Albert, Billy Bob, the dead body of Wild Bill Hickok, and Rot Toe, the Wrestling Chimpanzee. When they finally visit the small town of Mud Creek, the gunfighter known as Texas Jack Wentworth challenges Billy Bob to a shootout. The outcome of that gun battle will have a dire affect on Buster¿s life and things will never be the same again for the young boy. THE MAGIC WAGON is the perfect example of what great storytelling is all about. It¿s filled with memorable characters (both good and bad) that leave a lasting impression. There¿s humor and tragedy that carries the reader through the gamut of emotions. Few scenes in a novel have affected me as strongly as the one where the tornado whips down onto Buster¿s home without warning, ripping the barn apart, driving a pitchfork into the chest of his father, and carrying the farmhouse away with his mother still in it. There¿s also adventure here of the grandest sort. When Old Albert tells Buster about how they came across the body of Wild Bill and almost died in the process, the reader is drawn skillfully into the scene, becoming one with it and experiencing the fear and distrust as everything unfolds into a battle of life and death. Now, I don¿t know if there were really pistoliers in the old West that could shoot as good and fast as Billy Bob Daniels, but Mr. Lansdale had me believing there was. I felt like a kid at a circus as Billy Bob shot small coins out of the air, split playing cards in half that were turned sideways, and fired a shot that drove a cork into a bottle, knocking out the bottom without shattering the neck. The author also drew clear portraits of how the West really was with its dirty, cow-dung smelling towns, the false myths of dime-novel heroes, and the suddenness of violence and death. Mr. La
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want to read a book that looks at the mentality of the old west dealing with things like racisim and manhood,this is the book you want. Mr Lansdale is a storyteller not like many others.One moment theres raw violence,the next strange humor and all the way a sense of evil lurking in the characters,towns and the wagon they travel in. There is also a wresteling ape and the hauted carcass of wild Bill Hickcock. I doubt others can match that!