A Shot of the Good Stuff: Trent Zelazny, “Mourning Road”

I came by Trent Zelazny’s work by accident on Facebook because we both like Social Distortion, Joe Lansdale, and pro wrestling. I should say, in full disclosure, Trent was kind enough to give me a blurb for DEATH MATCH, which he enjoyed (“A swift blow to the head. Ridler’s Death Match is a fast-paced battle royal of such character and action that even once you’re bleeding profusely, you don’t want him to ring the final bell.” – Trent Zelazny).  So it’s a great relief to read his work, too and dig it, too!

I’m almost through his bitter and tough little gem FRACTAL DESPONDENCY, but devoured a lot of his collection THE DAY THE LEASH GAVE WAY while en route to DragonCon.

Lots to like in the collection, but “Mourning Road” is a personal fave. A fable about road kill and bearing witness to the dead  (a theme that I find captivating, especially in the war novel HARP OF BURMA), it reminds me a little of some of Lansdale’s work. But where Lansdale’s voice carries within it the “tall tale” vibe of a lot of Texas writers (Robert E. Howard and Neal Barrett, Jr. come to mind), Zelazny, who has lived lots of places but is putting up stakes in New Mexico, has a cooler, sharper, smoother tone to his work, more akin to Dashiell Hammett, which in the case of this story makes for a very sad note. Not all his stories carry this clean sadness, some are pretty kinetic, but it’s one of the tones he hits very well.

If you dig crime fiction with a dark edge, check out either book and I think you’ll walk away pleased with your investment. Dig it.

JSR

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About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jason.ridler.56
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