Two Shots of the Good Stuff: Joe Lansdale and Donald Ray Pollock

So, with the mad scramble after World Fantasy, I have been remiss in sharing some thoughts on great short stories. Here’s two that were clear knockouts.


Joe Lansdale, “The Stars are Falling,” STORIES. A wonderful story about a veteran returning from the Great War, to find that his family has changed . . . and so has he. A quiet tale of lost lives, but in Lansdale’s unique voice. So far, it’s the best story I’ve read in the collection. Pure gold.

Donald Ray Pollock, “Real Life,” KNOCKEMSTIFF. A brutal father/son story about violence and morals as a learned trait. The collection is first class and is sorta like Gary Braunbeck doing a lit grit version of Winesburg, Ohio. If you like Lansdale, Braunbeck, Larry Brown, Chuck Palahniuk, you will dig Pollock, a career pulp and paper working who got his MFA after thirty years in the industry. Tough, relentless, dark and yet human. One of the best reads and discoveries I’ve had all year.

That should keep you juiced until next week!


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
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