Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Joe R. Lansdale's "Wrestling Jesus"

Wow, that was a different kind of novella. I wondered what the story would be about since the title was all kinds of interesting. Was it about someone who struggled with their faith? At least, that was my first suspicion. It really wasn't. 
This was a strange tale, full of foul language that could make even George R.R. Martin blush (okay, maybe not that foul - but we're talking language from the same neighborhood), a curious collection of characters (well, the main character is ye archetypal boy who gets bullied - and how - but the secondary characters are strange, stranger and strangest), and it's a story that supposedly goes on in our time, with no magic or science fiction stuff whatever, but at the same time it is kind of a fantastical tale because you have to believe that ninety-year old men (I don't actually remember the age of these characters) are uncannily fit for their age and are boxing. There's this incredibly hot femme fatale, you see, and the two doddering boxers meet up occasionally to fight over her, and whoever wins the game wins the woman. She is dangerous because, apparently, she has put a spell on these two old-timers. She's like a voodoo witch type of character. 
If this didn't sound a little bit strange to you, okay. At the same time, it was well written and kept me wanting to read until I finished it, partially because I wasn't quite sure what I was reading and had to see how the author would tie this zaniness up. In the end, it was a fun and memorable little piece. There was one scene in particular that bothered me more than texts usually do; on his way to meet the X-Man (one of the boxers), the main character (I have forgotten his name already, no wait, it popped up in my head right now - ) Marvin faces a bully who actually, after knocking Marvin down, squats over him with his trousers down, telling Marvin to actually lick his ass. With assorted nasty dialogue added. Spicy. 
The tale isn't entirely the old trope of 'poor kid gets beaten up finds master who teaches him to fight', though the author certainly riffs on it, though. Well, it's there, but it's hidden beneath layers of swearing and strangeness. I honestly don't know where to rank this among the tales I've read so far in Dangerous Women. I liked it, and I kind of didn't. It was good, but not all the time. That bully could be Ramsay Bolton as a kid, though. That's a plus I suppose. I do recommend it, though, if only for a somewhat different reading experience. 
Following on the epic, serious Raisa Stepanova, though, Wrestling Jesus is definitely one odd duck. The title, by the way, isn't as clever as the story itself though. Jesus is the other boxer in the story, who X-Man fights for the rights to the beautiful voodoo lady. Now her name I have forgotten, much as I keep forgetting to finish that Samwell Tarly post. 
No other geeky news to enjoy either. It's been correcting term papers all week long, but now I'm almost done, which feels good. Oh, there is some news. Martin is showing movies again at his cinema. Shame it's a twenty hour, 1000$ flight or I'd definitely go watch weird movies at the Cocteau. 

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