©2004 Joe R. Lansdale; (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.
"The book opens with a cyclone, ends with a plague of grasshoppers and in between there's insanity, extreme violence, sex, grotesques aplenty and an excellent dog. What's not to like?" (Publishers Weekly)
If I could give this book 6 stars I would. It's an amazing story - some of it a bit "fantasy" but overall a very good tale. And the narrator was incredibly good. I've been with Audible for a year and this is the best one I've read yet.
As with all of Joe's books that I've read, this was a top-notch story told with a "from the hip" style that draws you in and keeps you on your toes with twists that sneak up on you - there are clues and you may even figure out the gist of it but there's almost always some little something you've overlooked - some thread that helps tie it all together that much tighter that you overlooked even though the clue was sitting there to be seen.
And Joe is great at transporting the reader to a different time and place. It's not always a comfortable time or place and it's not always prett but it's always a fun ride that you're not quite ready to leave when it's run its course.
I'm not sure why two of Lansdale's novels (non-Happ and Leonard) rated such poor narrators.
The story is pretty good. I listened to this one after all the Happ and Leonard books and it was a relief from his formulaic approach in the Happ and Leonard books.
This is the first in a two part series about "Camp Rapture", a town / settlement in East Texas. There is no need to take them in order as they are virtually unrelated.
I'm not much of a fan of female narrators because there are so few good ones, so there may be a bias here, but listen to a sample first to make sure you can stand her droning slow and irritating voice.
Overall, I recommend the story, just be cautious with the narrator.
Joe R. Landsdale seems to specialize in stories that depict Texas as a Hell on earth. While he is a wonderful storyteller and has wonderful characters his novels are set in poverty, dreariness, violent, prejudice, and the desolation of a flat heat baked sqaulid land. It's nice to have a mystery that not about the rich and famous set in beautiful places Joe swings the pendulum all the way to the other side. It's important to be exposed to the side of America we don't like to see but it is a bitter pill to swallow.
If you can get past that, this is a great story. His use of language will prove offensive to most be it is honest down to its most raw. The mystery keeps you guessing, character's surprise, the bad guys are original, and the ending is an oll out orgasm.
Reader is tops.
I'm just beginning to discover Mr. Lansdale's novels. I enjoyed the Hap-and-Leonard novels, because of their humor. "Sunset and Sawdust" emerges from a different wellspring of Mr. Lansdale's imagination -- a more serious and sober wellspring -- which doesn't provide the laughs that Hap and Leonard elicit. "Sunset and Sawdust" takes place during the Great Depression, among people enduring hard times. The story kept me wondering, "Could this have really happened, even during the Depression?" Having not lived through the Depression, and not having studied about it much, I don't know; but some of the events in "Sunset and Sawdust" strained my credibility a bit. I don't mind when a funny story strains my credibility; but when a serious story does so, it troubles me. On the other hand, the reader, Deborah Marlow, does a wonderful job narrating this audiobook ... to the extent that, in my opinion, she rescues it. She has a beautiful voice which she can command into a wide variety of characters. I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who has an interest in the Great Depression, feminism, or east Texas hardscrabble folk.
Overall its an entertaining book. It had very interesting characters and a good story. It occasionally got bogged down because the reader was a little sub par.
Elements of "Sunset and Sawdust" reminded me of the stories my parents and grandparents told of the depression in rural areas in Texas. This book evokes that period better than any historical rendition. But the cultural and social details are just the foundation of a solid mystery, with characters as finely drawn as hairs on a frog's chin. This book may not appeal to everyone, it can be as slowpaced as an August day on the Brazos, but if you want to be placed in a different time and, probably, in a different part of the country, I cannot think of a better book.
I would give it 5 stars if not for the reader. Her style is much better suited to children's books. Every sentece was delivered in a slow, deliberate voice as if reading to children, and when characters were conversing, each stament she read, her voice inflected up as if the statments where questions - much the way a 5 or 6 y.o. speaks when nervously telling a story. Or if you've seen American Pie "one time, at band camp..." It was exactly like that.
If you can get past the reader, the story itself is great.
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