RAZORED SADDLES by Joe R. & Pat LoBrutto--Eds. Lansdale

RAZORED SADDLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A revisionist western anthology--""cowpunk,"" the editors crow--whose sardonic mix of horror, sf, and mystery, though rarely gripping, is outr‚ enough to send Louis L'Amour spinning in his grave. Case in point: the opener, Robert R. McCarnmon's ""Black Boots,"" in which a crazed gunslinger hallucinates an immortal opponent out of innocent folk, including a little boy whom he shoots dead: a tale of little emotional impact, but one that effectively mocks the western mythos; or the post-nuke title story, by Robert Pettit, during which a cowboy at ""The Rodeo"" bucks on a razor-spiked saddle strapped onto a giant rattlesnake: here, it's the visual imagery that counts. Another tale drenched in atmospherics but little else is Lewis Shiner's ""Gold,"" set in the New Orleans of yore, about a man who meets with the ghost of Jean Lafitte and thus his own fate; also evocative, but propped up by cheap plot devices, are F. Paul Wilson's ""The Tenth Toe,"" a horror tale about how Doc Holliday contracted TB, and Ardath Mayhar's ""Trapline,"" a gory tale of a trapper who uses human bait. Very offPoeat, more effective stories are offered by Richard Laymon (""Dinker's Pond,"" a black-humored tall tale about tall tales); Howard Waldrop (""The Passing of the Western,"" a one-of-a-kinder about western films); and Richard Christian Matheson, who, as usual, packs much into few words in his ""I'm Always Here,"" about Siamese-twinned lovers. A strong crime entry comes courtesy of Neal Barrett, Jr., with ""Tony Red Dog,"" a mean and funny account of how an Indian bests his mob bosses; and last but foremost is Chet Williamson's brutal and eerily poignant ""Yore Skin's Jes's Soft n' Puny. . .He Said,"" about a homosexual who comes west looking for macho love--and, horrifyingly, finds it. Really of novelty value only, but varied enough to appeal to a wide if thin range of genre fans--who, however, should be aware that Stephen King, with his Dark Tower series, is reworking the western with more style and energy than any author collected here.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1989
Publisher: Dark Harvest (P.O. Box 941, Arlington Heights, IL 60006)