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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER WINNER FOR THIS GREAT AMERICAN WRITER!!!, January 7, 2003
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This review is from: A Fine Dark Line (Hardcover)
In Joe R. Lansdale's newest novel, A FINE DARK LINE, the reader is carried back to the summer of 1958 when thirteen-year-old Stanley Mitchell, Jr. and his family move to Dewmont, Texas to take over the ownership of the town's only drive-in movie theater. This is the summer that Stanley will lose his childhood innocence and learn that there's no Santa Claus, what sex is really about, the ugly truth concerning racism, and the painful reality about death, murder and the human monsters that hide behind the masks of one's next-door neighbors. It's also the summer that young Stanley begins to learn about the power of friendship, family, love, and the unrelenting courage that's needed in the face of horror. Stanley's journey into adulthood begins when he finds a half-buried metal box filled with old love letters near a burnt-down house in the woods behind the drive-in theater where he and his family now live. The letters belonged to a young girl who was gruesomely murdered almost two decades before. The fact that the crime was never solved triggers Stanley's curiosity. With the help of his older sister, Caldonia, and his new friends Richard Chapman and old Buster Lighthorse Smith, he begins to slowly, but persistently, dig into the past, not knowing that what he discovers will change his life forever. Brilliantly written by one of America's top authors, A FINE DARK LINE carries us back to when comic books were a nickel, Tarzan movies played on TV in the mornings, and a young boy could believe that the fictional John Carter of Mars actually existed. This was a time when anything seemed possible, and small-town life during the hot, sweltering summer months was slow and relaxed, and the local teenagers flocked to the drive-in theater at night to see the newest movies and to make out in their cars. Mr. Lansdale is able to capture the pure ambience of these forgotten memories with a simplicity of words that draws the reader into the story as if he/she was walking the streets of Dewmont with Stanley and his dog, Nub. Each of the main and supporting characters are fully developed individuals that you either love or hate, and one can't help finding themselves laughing out loud as Stanley learns about the "birds and the bees" from Caldonia and Buster, or feeling the soul-wrenching emptiness as he experiences first hand from the Mitchell's housekeeper, Rosy Mae, how terrible men can be toward the women they love. This is not only a journey for Stanley, but one for the reader as well. You'll come away with a little more knowledge of what it means to be a human being in all of its mixed-up aspects. Like Mr. Lansdale's previous award-winning novel, THE BOTTOMS, this book is what I would call a "life experience," and it's one I would highly recommend to any person wishing more than a casual read. Entertaining, thought provoking, and nostalgic, A FINE DARK LINE is a true masterpiece from one of America's most gifted writers.
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