THE MAGIC WAGON
JOE R. LANSDALE
Already renowned for his work in horror and “splatterpunk,” Joe R. Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series, Cold in July, Bubba Ho-Tep) helped cement the Weird Western genre as we know it with THE MAGIC WAGON and several other titles beginning in the 1980s and continuing more than 30 years later to this day.
First published in 1986, THE MAGIC WAGON tells the tall tales of narrator Buster Fogg and the group of traveling merchant marauders he takes up with after his family is killed by a tornado. Their adventures take them through dank caves, across the countryside, and into Mud Creek - an East Texas town that would have made Deadwood look like the Land of Oz.
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
BookVoice: How would you describe THE MAGIC WAGON to someone who might not have heard of the story?
Joe: That's a toughie, but I will say this, if you think it's a standard Western, you're wrong. If you think it's something else, oddly, you're also wrong. It takes place at the turn of the century, 1909, and the West as we think of it was gone, but there is a residual somewhat ghostly residue of its existence, though much of what we think about the West is wrong and is built on movie images. That's part of what the story is about. We don't even know if this is Wild Bill's body, not actually. But in Billy Bob's mind it is for certain. And for him the Dime Novel idea of what the West was is pervasive with him. He prefers the myth to the truth. The myth gives him comfort. What's going on here is a story told by a kid who has had a rough life in a short time, and he's telling a story that manages to be about age and race and broken dreams. It deals with some real historical figures, but the truth is, Buster is an unreliable narrator. He tells what he thinks he knows, and senses what he thinks is going on, a kind of supernatural aspect, but that may or may not be more in his head than in reality. And hey, you get a wrestling chimpanzee.
-- A "Twainesque tall tale. This novel endures as a modern western classic." - Publishers Weekly
-- "Classic Lansdale." - Ricky L. Brown, Amazing Stories
-- "An assortment of colorful, often humorous characters gives this insightful and gritty tale authenticity and a sense of wonder." - Booklist
-- "Joe R. Lansdale proves he can show his readers a good time—and leave them a little something to think about afterward." - The New York Times Book Review
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joe R. Lansdale is the author of fifty novels and more than three hundred 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 at least thirty short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies.
Lansdale has received the Edgar Award, eleven 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.
THE MAGIC WAGON is also available from BookVoice Publishing in a signed/numbered limited edition hardcover. Includes an all-new introduction by the author, new artwork and inside sketches, a rare Western short story by Joe, and more. Limited to only 500 copies. www.bvpstore.com
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About the Author
Joe R. Lansdale (b. 1951) is the author of more than 40 novels and numerous short stories in a range of genres, including Western, horror, science fiction, mystery, and suspense. He has received the Edgar Award and eight Bram Stoker Awards, and several of his books have been adapted into films. He is best known for his Hap Collins and Leonard Pine mystery series, set in the fictional town of LaBorde in East Texas. He lives with his family in Texas.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Quite a twist on the old gunfighter western. I like this author, and really enjoyed this book. Give it a try.
Oh so its a western?
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
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!