I said in my last post that this book, A Fine Dark Line by Joe R Lansdale deserved a post to itself, so here it is.
I did suspect that I was going to like this book before I started it. I loved The Bottoms. In fact it's one of my all time favourite books, and this one is fairly similar in structure.
It's set in East Texas in the 1950s and is a coming of age story about Stanley, who's parents run the local drive-in. It's a simple tale about a young boy discovering what's important in life, learning about sex and death and friendship, about inequality and racism. The whole book is full of wonderful, beautifully drawn characters, like Stanley himself, his father, mother and sister, friend Richard, Rosa Mae who works for the family, and the projectionist Buster Lighthorse Smith. Lansdale has a delicate touch and he subtly draws you right into this thirteen-year-old's world. Before you know it you're completely hooked. It's a masterpiece of setting and pacing and he pulls it all together beautifully at the end.
It's a book that stays with you, that you keep thinking about after you've finished it and put it aside. And for me that shows how good a book it is. I read so many books these days, some because I want to, some for review, some for reading group, and it is rare to find a book that stays with me for several days after I put it down, as this one has done. Too many of the books I read now have no real impact. They don't stay with you. You read them and they are gone. Sometimes I go to comment on a book at reading group and realise that I can't remember what happened in it, though I only read it a week or so ago. This book kept me thinking about it all over the weekend and prompted me to go pick up The Bottoms and start reading it again.
A Fine Dark Line is a great book. Go read it!