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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Lansdale Joe R
 

«Waltz of Shadows», Joe Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale

 

Preface

Waltz of Shadows has a somewhat odd history. It was originally called Mucho Mojo. I wrote it for my then-publisher Mysterious Press, which was an arm of Warner Books, now Hachette.

I worked hard on it and spent almost a year writing it. It was a difficult book, and it seemed to go in all directions at once, or at least that was the case with the first draft. When I finished, I was unhappy with it, and wrote another book bearing the title Mucho Mojo. Totally different book, but I brought some of the themes from Waltz to it.

Mucho Mojo was published and was the second novel in my popular Hap and Leonard series. I was proud of that book, and it was a New York Times Notable book, and this led to several other novels about that duo, all currently available from Vintage and in e-book form.

Waltz, however, lingered in my files. I had worked so hard on it, and had felt so disappointed in it at the time, I decided it was a busted flush. In time, I gave the original manuscript to a university and pretty much forgot about it. But then a small press called Subterranean, which is now a major publishing house, asked me if I had something they might publish.

I didn’t.

Or I didn’t think so.

And then I remembered Waltz. I guess it had been in the back of my mind for some time, my subconscious most likely working on it without me knowing it. That’s the way I write best, when I’m not consciously trying to figure out what comes next, but instead let my subconscious sort things out while my conscious mind goes about the everyday business of living. Still, this book was different. I think at my core I knew I had something, but it was unusual for me in that whatever that something was, it hadn’t jelled early. Most of my work does. It hits me suddenly, and I start writing. It’s not that everything is clear. Quite the contrary; I am struck by a mood and the mood grows until I start writing. I usually have no idea what I’m about to write until I write it, and when I quit for the day, I seldom have any great idea of the next scene in my head. Perhaps a spark here and there, a bit of music, a rhythm to the story, but that’s it. I don’t know any other way to describe it.

I had a spare copy of the manuscript. I got it out and started reading, and saw right away what the problem was. It was too lonscrg and too busy and too wordy. I took a pen and started to cut. As I cut away the debris, like a sculptor chiseling away at a fine but oddly-shaped hunk of granite, a form began to reveal itself. I knew immediately what the problem had been. I had been trying too hard. I had written too much. I had tried to cover all the bases and had attempted to make it too complex. I cut out entire scenes and stretches of description. I realized that the novel was at heart exactly what I did well, that it encompassed themes that I’m passionate about, like brotherhood and friendship and family, duty and honor. But there was a lot of flack there too.

I was really brutal with the book’s editing, but as I said before, like a sculpture, it began to present itself, and when I finished cutting it, I was astonished to see the results. I liked it. I liked it even better after I read it in page proofs, and better yet when I reread it a few years later after it had come out as a novel. Oh, by the way. It was now called Waltz of Shadows, a very accurate title, I think.

Even though I have published many novels with Subterranean, as well as mainstream New York presses, this one I have always felt was one of those that fell between the cracks. Therefore, I’m excited for it to appear in print now, and for it to have the opportunity for a completely new readership.

It’s fast paced. It’s dark. It’s full of those themes I mentioned. And I hope it’s as entertaining as I believe it to be. So here it is. The leaner, meaner, harder-hitting version of that novel I wrote some years ago.

I’m glad to have it back out there in the world.

Acknowledgments

My respect and gratitude to my good friend and agent, Barbara Puechner, as well as Neal Barrett, Jr., Andrew Vachss, Jeff Banks, David Webb, and Ardath Mayhar for their kindness, advice, and support. But most of all, for their friendship and kinship.

Author’s Note

Just because I felt like it, I have played fast and loose with the geography of East Texas by blending the names of real towns and cities and rivers and lakes with those of my creation. I did this for story purposes. The character and terrain of East Texas, my favorite spot in the world, however, remains true to reality. Or at least reality as I see it.

Part One

 

The Disaster Club

 

1

All the blood and disaster began on a Saturday morning when I thought everything was going just right. It was late October in East Texas, and from my recliner I could see out the tall glass that makes up two of our living room walls, and it was beautiful outside. A little cool looking, leaves gone gold and red and brown and starting to fall. Clouds white as angel’s panties could be glimpsed through the tops of the tall pines and oaks that made up most of our two acres. A cat squirrel jumped from one oak limb to another, then leaped out of sight. I felt like I was in a Disney movie.

Then I got the call.

I heard the phone ring, and was about to answer, assuming it would be some minor problem at one of the videos stores I own, when Beverly started downstairs.


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