Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-suckers

September 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

cosmicBubba and the Cosmic Blood-suckers by Joe R. Lansdale

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So, here’s an interesting thing: The “Bubba” in Bubba Ho-Tep was Elvis. I had always taken the title to be a reference to the mummy, since it was set in Texas, but since said mummy makes zero appearances in this novel, and another character calls Elvis “Bubba” at one point, I was proven wrong. It makes me wonder what else I’ve taken for granted all these years.

As it turns out, there was a good bit I had taken for granted. In Bubba Ho-Tep, you never get a sense that the narrator is unreliable, so you’re pretty convinced the main character is, in fact, Elvis, but there’s a lingering doubt that he’s just some crazy dude with a strange fantasy. That carries over to JFK, too, more prominently since Elvis himself never quite believes that he’s actually JFK. This novel confirms that both claims are true, which somehow lessens the impact of the original story. It takes that uncertainty and makes it fact, which removes the ambiguity that makes the novella work so well.

The other thing about the novel is that it was just too ridiculous. Yes, yes, Elvis and JFK, in an East Texas nursing home battling an Egyptian mummy, isn’t exactly mainstream, but somehow it worked better than Elvis and the Colonel heading up what amounts to a Scooby Doo gang. Plus, the more the story continued, the less I could hang on to the whole Elvis connection. He sounded and felt like any other character, and when it came back to me that this was supposed to be Elvis, I almost started laughing.

I mean, Lansdale is Lansdale, and reading him is like reading no other author, but even that seemed to be lacking. I find that his supernatural stories don’t have the same kind of brusque charm that his crime novels do, and that’s much more evident when you compare this with, say, Rusty Puppy. They both have the snappy dialogue and the unique characters, but the plot for Blood-suckers isn’t as strong as Rusty Puppy, and the story overall suffers for it.

Look, I’ll read anything Joe Lansdale releases, without hesitation. It’s been a while since I’ve come across a book of his that I didn’t like on some level, but Blood-suckers feels like it’s coming from the bottom of the barrel. It’s about on par with Lost Echoes, my least favorite Lansdale book, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence it’s also a supernatural novel. On the bright side, I’ll be getting around to Jackrabbit Smile soon, so hopefully my experience will improve.

Started: September 6, 2018
Finished: September 9, 2018

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