Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SAVAGE SEASON by Joe Lansdale, read by Phil Gigante

For a change today, I'm reviewing a spoken word book, Savage Season, availible from Brilliance Audio Books. This was a 5-CD set and unabridged. Although the novel was first published in 1990, this spoken word version was recorded in 2008. It's about five hours long.
I first read this book in paperback form around 1991. I remember handing it off to a few friends who also read it. Although I'd encountered a number of Lansdale's works before, this was the first actual novel of his I'd read. And it hit me with all the hammering of his short stories. Rough situations and even rougher people. A friend and spent days quoting the snappy dialogue back and forth to each other.
The story centers around Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. Both are in their 40's and have "The Sixties" in common. Both live in a rural area of East Texas. Both work for "The Rose Fields" as laborers. And that is what they have in common. Hap is white and divorced from a woman named Trudy. He was an "activist" in the 60's. Leonard has lived alone most of his life and is Vietnam war veteran. He's also gay. But both have bonded over the years and are the best of friends.
Then one day Hap's ex-wife Trudy makes an appearance. She's done this several times before and Leonard always warns Hap to stay away from her, which he never does. But this time Trudy has a proposal to make: some of her activist friends have learned about a load of money stolen from a bank robbery. The robbery went sour and everyone of the robbers are now dead. Trudy's latest husband learned of the bank job from the last surviving member of the gang before that man died too. All Trudy needs is Hap's knowledge of the backwoods were the money was hidden. Naturally, Hap demands Leonard get cut into the deal as well.
Of course, nothing goes according to plan.
Phil Gigante does and exceptional job reading the book. His interpretative style fits the characters nicely. I'd always imagined Hap and Leonard sounding like his voices. Not so much for some of the other characters. Toward the end of the book two drug dealers make an appearance: "Soldier" and "Angel". Soldier is a psychotic killer and Angel his barbell-lifting female accomplice. One of Angel's trademarks is she seldom talks and uses one word when she does. Her character doesn't lend itself too well to interperative reading.
I recommend this audio book, but I also recommend you read the source novel first.

1 comment:

  1. Also read this back in the day, paperback had that woman's hand impaled by a nail on the cover. I always liked Joe's crime novels although I haven't read any of his newer works in the field. Glad all his classic '80s/90s stuff is coming back into print by the venerable Vintage/Black Lizard line--exactly where he belongs!