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Paradise Sky

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A Library Journal Best Book of 2015!

A rollicking novel about Nat Love, an African-American cowboy with a famous nickname: Deadwood Dick.

Young Willie is on the run, having fled his small Texas farm when an infamous local landowner murdered his father. A man named Loving takes him in and trains him in the fine arts of shooting, riding, reading, and gardening. When Loving dies, Willie re-christens himself Nat Love in tribute to his mentor, and heads west.

In Deadwood, South Dakota Territory, Nat becomes a Buffalo Soldier and is befriended by Wild Bill Hickok. After winning a famous shooting match, Nat's peerless marksmanship and charm earn him the nickname Deadwood Dick, as well as a beautiful woman. But the hellhounds are still on his trail, and they brutally attack Nat Love's love. Pursuing the men who have driven his wife mad, Nat heads south for a final, deadly showdown against those who would strip him of his home, his love, his freedom, and his life.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published June 16, 2015

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About the author

Joe R. Lansdale

724 books3,225 followers
Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over forty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in more than two dozen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies. He has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others. His novella Bubba Ho-Tep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" was adapted to film for Showtime's "Masters of Horror," and he adapted his short story "Christmas with the Dead" to film hisownself. The film adaptation of his novel Cold in July was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Sundance Channel has adapted his Hap & Leonard novels for television.

He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero. He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife, dog, and two cats.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 381 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,863 followers
February 19, 2017
Trouble finds young Willie when he dares to take an eyeful of a white neighbor woman's behind.
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Her husband is exactly the wrong kind of man to cross and he decides that Willie needs hanging because he 'dared to defile' his wife. So Willie is now on the run.
His story takes him to a farm ran by a kindly man named Loving who takes Willie in and teaches him to shoot and to take care of himself. That is short lived and soon Willie is on the run from the angry husband again. Willie changes his name on Mr. Loving's advice to help escape the crazy man. Now Willie is Nat Love.
Nat heads towards the west and enlists with the "Buffalo Soldiers" for a short time. There is no peace in even that for Nat though because that crazy man has decided that everything that goes wrong in his life is because of that black man looking at his wife's bum. (The guy is not the smartest cog in the wheel)
So Nat ends up in Deadwood and meets up with Wild Bill Hickok.
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Nat's adventures continue with shooting matches, run-ins with several bad guys, women he falls head over heels for and so on. He eventually earns yet another name. Deadwood Dick. Stories have been written about him..and this is one.

I wish I had liked it more.

I love Joe Lansdale's writing but this one fell probably in line as my least favorite of his. If pressed for reasons why? I would go for that "Blazing Saddles" type of overboardness that caused me to do several eye rolls. It was fun every so often for a one liner to zip into the story but I just wasn't feeling this book as a whole.

I'm going with 2.5 stars. I did buddy read this with Delee and Dan the 2.0. So go troll them if you don't like my review. They made me!
Profile Image for Char .
1,614 reviews1,464 followers
February 13, 2019
This is an OUTSTANDING western novel about the life of Deadwood Dick, aka Nat Love.

Willie is an African American boy who was forced out on his own at a very young age, due to an unfortunate glance at the rear end of a white man's wife. This story follows Willie until he becomes Nat and, indeed, a far different man.

This audio book has it all. The narrator, Brad Sanders, is unbelievably fantastic. His performance, combined with the storytelling of Joe Lansdale, makes this one of the best audio books I've EVER read. I laughed out loud so many times my coworkers wondered what was going on. And that reaction was nothing to what happened when I began crying my eyes out later on.

I just started getting into Joe Lansdale's work this year and, again, I'm feeling sorry that I waited such a long time to do so. But on the bright side, I have a bunch more of his books to read and that's a great thing.

Highly recommended to everyone! Period.
Profile Image for Richard.
981 reviews353 followers
August 16, 2016
Now, in the living of my life, I've killed deadly men and dangerous animals and made love to four Chinese women, all of them on the same night and in the same wagon bed, and one of them with a wooden leg, which made things a mite difficult from time to time. I even ate some of a dead fellow once when I was crossing the plains, though I want to rush right in here and make it clear I didn't know him all that well, and we damn sure wasn't kinfolks, and it all come about by a misunderstanding.
And so begins the true account of the adventures of the Western legend Deadwood Dick, as told by his own damn self. He's eager to set the record straight about his story, which begins when as a young man named Willie Jackson, he runs away from home to escape a lynching after a grudge-crazed rancher catches him staring at his wife's ass. After he discovers that he's a natural horseman and shootist, Willie takes the name of Nat Love and embarks on a series of wild escapades across the frontier, making friends, killing enemies, finding love, rubbing noses with legends, and becoming one himself.

Once again Joe Lansdale crafts a Western adventure that is charming, exciting, and a pleasure to read, featuring a great lead character. And big ups to him for helping to bring attention to black western figures like Nat Love, since they've largely been ignored in movies and books. And aside from Love, the supporting characters and villains are a big reason why this one is so enjoyable, each one memorable and providing their own color to the overall tapestry. It's a testament to Lansdale's talent that with so many characters populating the book, he can make each one stand out. His considerable skill as a natural storyteller is again on full display here, with his folksy narrative voice and trademark wit proving a perfect fit for the story.
"Let's go outside and see how much of you is fact and how much of you is fart mouth and horseshit."
If you're looking for an entertaining, rousing adventure tale, throw this one on your to-read pile. I might even go as far as saying that it's even more knock-down awesome as his previous western The Thicket , but I personally wish he explored Nat as a more flawed character. It's a wonderful novel that I would gladly read again and a great folktale of the Old West. For companion reading, there is an old autobiography of the real Nat Love that was an inspiration for the novel, and Lansdale also published a novella with further adventures of Deadwood Dick called Black Hat Jack .
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
Want to read
September 26, 2017
in case anyone else was waiting for this info - it is NOW AVAILABLE in paperback! WOOT!


why is there no paperback release date for this book yet? does anyone know? i didn't buy it last summer because i was trying to be frugal (and YES, i know that libraries exist, but then there's PRESSURE), and i assumed it would have come out by now, but i see no listing for it anywhere.

anyone got any deets?

Profile Image for Ɗẳɳ  2.☊.
156 reviews294 followers
May 4, 2018
In Paradise Sky, Lansdale recounts the early exploits of a black folk hero of the Old West named Nat Love. The amount to which Lansdale chooses to embellish the historical record is of no concern to me since I read purely for the entertainment value.

The narrative opens with young Willie being invited to a lynching. However, he hadn’t been asked to “hold the rope or sing a little spiritual”, rather he was to be the guest of honor and have his neck stretched “like a goozle-wrung chicken at Sunday dinner.” You see, poor Willie was caught sneaking a peek at a white woman’s backside while she was bending over her laundry basket. And those good ol’ boys from East Texas ain’t about to allow that transgression to stand.

When the aggrieved varmint is unable to catch Willie he rounds up a posse and circles back to Willie’s farmstead. Where they proceed to murder his father and burn their home to the ground—seems like a reasonable response. But that meager payback is not nearly enough to quench the white man’s insatiable bloodlust, so he continues his pursuit throughout the remainder of the story.

A story which sees Willie venture through the historic Old West locales of Dodge City, Deadwood, and Fort Smith; and become acquainted with a few of the most iconic figures of the time, such as Wild Bill Hickok, Bass Reeves, and Comanche Joe (AKA the Lone Ranger and Tonto). A story where Willie masters all the fine arts of shooting, riding, reading, and gardening, and re-christens himself Nat Love in tribute to his mentor. A story which sees Lansdale drop more n-words than a Quentin Tarantino flick. And a story which I was greatly looking forward to after the excellent Thicket novel, and one that should have been right in my wheelhouse.

However, there was something lacking in the descriptions of places that kept me from fully immersing into the tale at times. But the most noticeable missing element was what I like to refer to as that Lansdale Special Sauce—that witty banter which so often has me grinning from ear to ear while reading a Hap and Leonard adventure. Tagging along with a pair of great cut-ups as they bust each other’s chops is often enough of a treat, in and of itself, for me to forgive other shortcomings in the narrative. But that Special Sauce arrived a little late here.

Essentially, Paradise Sky can be viewed as a series of Nat Love buddy-ups—from his time with a fellow buffalo soldier, to a brief flirtation with Wild Bill, to a sharpshooter rival turned friend, to a small town preacher. But the formula was never quite perfected until Nat teamed up with Comanche Joe in the third act. From that point onward the tale was awesome, and it was easy to notice what was previously lacking.

Bottom Line: Although I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Thicket, I would still highly recommend it. It may be a tad overlong, and Lansdale’s hyperbole can grow tiring at times, but he’s got a great ear for dialog and he knows how to spin a hell of a yarn.

Buddy-read with Shelby (and Delee?) way back in the dawn of civilization.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews257 followers
March 21, 2015
“Paradise Sky” by Joe R. Lansdale is a great addition to his cannon.

The story loosely based on the true story of African American cowboy Nat Love (1854–1921), is a fast-paced Western. We first met Nat in the book “Black Hat Jack” (Subterranean; Deluxe Hardcover Edition (September 30, 2014)) where Nat Love, the one and only Deadwood Dick, writes down his version of certain events. “Black Hat Jack” recounts the later years in Nat’s life “Paradise Sky” chronicles the early years . Both books can be read independently.

A quote from the authors note states “Parts of this novel were loosely based on short stories “Solderin” and “Hides and Horns” I hve slightly condensed certain Historical events to suit my story telling purposes, though I have on the whole tried to present these as well as the contribution of black cowboys, soldiers, and lawmen in the West accurately while adhering to the mythology-building tradition of all great western storytellers of the time, including the real Nat Love, who inspired so much of this story, at least in spirit”

The story “Hides and Horns” can be read here at Subterranean Press magazine from spring 2009.


The story “Solderin” can be read in - Hardcover, First Edition, 736 pages Published March 16th 2010 by Tor Books

Part of the first line of “Paraadise Sky” is “ I’ve killed deadly men and dangerous animals and made love to four Chinese women, all of them on the same night and in the same wagon bed and one of them with a wooden leg.”
I would encourage anyone who loves great story telling and rousing adventure to read this book.

This is an Advance Reading copy of the book with an on sale date of June 16, 2015.
Profile Image for Dave Edmunds.
246 reviews51 followers
August 9, 2021

Brilliant western action from Joe Lansdale, where we get to ride the trail with legendary black cowboy Nat Love.  As a big fan of Western movies like Fistful of Dollars and the Outlaw Josie Wales I thought it was long overdue I broadened my literary horizons with a good book.  Paradise Sky was a fantastic place to start.

"I can’t stand a damn liar and have no respect for one. But an artful exaggerator always gets my full attention and my undying respect. —Nat Love

Set in 1850s Tennessee, based loosely on factual events and individuals,  things start with our protagonist avoiding a lynching by the skin of his teeth before going on the run, with revenge in mind, after his father is killed in his place.  What we then get is an amazing life story filled with action, tragedy and some great chatacters as we find out how Nat earned the name of Deadwood Dick.  It really is a rivetting tale that never gets boring for a second.  There's Apaches, marksmanship contests and good old fashioned shootouts. Plenty to grip you by the short and curlys and keep you entertained.

Lansdale's writing is sharp to the point of leaving a laceration on the reader and filled with darkly entertaining humour. I've read a few by him now and that's what you get.  It's unapologetic but always engaging and of a high standard.  The violence is unflinching, but never gratuitous, and the dialogue is absolutely on point.  Lansdale is clearly passionate about this story and he infuses this into every page.  He obviously did a lot of historical research with the detail and fact that's included. I couldn't help but be impressed with the overall package.

"Problem with trying to be rational all the time is the other fellow ain’t always concerned with how logical your argument is."

The scope of the novel is almost what's called Grimdark in the fantasy genre these days. There's some nasty, brutal stuff here and the author doesn't pull his punches. Characters are written in shades of grey and all are capable of despicable acts.  But woven into this is the story of one young man trying to break free of the oppressive shackles of life and make something of himself. The story of Nat Love is often inspiring as he continues to persevere despite what this cruel, harsh life throws his way.

So to sum things up, the more I read from Joe Lansdale the more I want to read. He's bloody good. In fact that a bit of an understatement. He's fantastic. So if you haven't read this author and you're not easily offended you should definitely give him a shot. And if a brilliant, shootem-up with a western flavour sounds your thing, then start with Paradise Sky. I guarantee you'll Nat Love it!

Joe Lansdale
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews257 followers
September 17, 2016
This is a great book. The only thing that could have made it greater are the illustrations provided by Mr. Baldwin. I had read and reviewed the the original publication of this book when it first appeared. With this edition, I would encourage any one who enjoys beautifully produced books to seek this edition out as it will be a prized possession to any library.

Highly highly recommended.

This is number 10 of 350 Illustrated copies signed by Joe R. Lansdale and Ben Baldwin.

Full color panoramic dust jacket illustration with extra wide flaps
Full color wraparound book board illustration
Over fifteen black & white interior illustrations
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 23 books3,921 followers
February 12, 2020
I only just started reading Joe Lansdale's books. I devoured THE BOTTOMS last year and it quickly moved up onto the bookshelf in my reader's heart that keeps all my favorite books. This book, PARADISE SKY, is the compelling tale of a young man named Willie Jackson in a very unforgiving time for an African American. Due to racial tension and lawlessness, Willie finds himself on the run. He's taken in by a lonely farmer who treats him kindly. But Westerns aren't known for their happy endings and soft edges. Lansdale tells the sprawling story of how aimless, vulnerable Willie becomes Nat Love (Deadwood Dick)- a brave Buffalo Soldier, gathering comrades and finding himself in a variety of epic situations.
My favorite aspect of Lansdale's storytelling is authenticity. Everything feels so real because each character has their own distinct voice, carefully added details provide depth, the dialog is colorful and HILARIOUS, and the setting is vivid. My reading experience was immersive--I felt it all: Injustice, the kindness of strangers, grief, fear, love, rage...all the things that happen to Nat Love happened to me too.
However, if THE BOTTOMS is the five, glowing, gold star standard-PARADISE SKY is a solid 4. There were some scenes where I felt like the characters would never stop riding around on horses fighting native Americans. I couldn't wait for things to move on from all of that. I also found myself feeling like I wanted to spend more time with Willie and Mr. Loving. I understand it's not my story, but I could have lived on that farm and observed those two for the length of a novel.
I'm recommending this book to fans of Western dramas. Colorful, memorable characters you fall in love with. Laugh-out-loud dialog, and engaging storytelling. Joe Lansdale is a new favorite author and I plan on reading all of it.
Profile Image for Howard.
1,121 reviews67 followers
November 15, 2021
5 Stars for Paradise Sky (audiobook) by Joe R. Lansdale read by Brad Sanders.

I loved this tribute to the African American Cowboy Nat Love. Lansdale does an amazing job of balancing grittiness, brutalness and quirkiness. His stories are so hard hitting action filled and the characters are great.
Profile Image for Chad.
Author 79 books634 followers
September 21, 2019
It's hard for me to pick a favorite from Lansdale, but this one is up there in the top 2. A gritty and humorous epic western that had me laughing throughout. Simple, lean prose at its best. Epic is the keyword here. There's a lot that happens to the protagonist, and I could tell while reading that Joe is a pantser who oftentimes probably wasn't too sure where things were headed while fleshing out the story. I've found that type of writing often makes for the most entertaining, original and unpredictable read.
Profile Image for Toby.
829 reviews328 followers
August 30, 2015
Joe Lansdale proves a rare exception to the rule that advance proof copies of novels sent to booksellers are garbage not worthy of the paper they are printed on. I somehow found myself third in line to read this fantastic western and third in line to be snorting inappropriately on train journeys and struggling to explain why a man dying under his horse is hilarious. The narrative voice adopted by Lansdale's fictional take on Nat Love, black marshall's deputy and former slave, on his flight from a lynching and the often dark adventures that follow is what makes Paradise Sky such a pleasure to read. There's a stop in Deadwood which slows things down a little in the middle but for the most part when Nat Love is travelling across his America this is a fast and engrossing read, highly entertaining, and I'll be on the look out for the later adventures of Nat Love in Black Hat Jack as soon as possible.
Profile Image for Ctgt.
1,410 reviews83 followers
September 19, 2015
Another great period piece from Lansdale. Even though he uses a real life character in this story, Nat Love, he dips into a popular writing form from that era, the dime western in which actual true events are only a faint rumor in the storyline.

Lansdale uses a formula of humor with periodic episodes of violence to follow Love from his early years on the run from a lynching party to his days as a pullman porter. In between Love serves a short stint in the army, becomes friends with Wild Bill Hickok, wins a shooting tourney earning his nickname Deadwood Dick, falls in love, and all the while is relentlessly pursued by Sam Ruggert, the local townsman who caught young Willie Jackson(Love) eyeballin' his wife as she was hanging out the laundry and set Love on this journey.

There were a few moments that seemed to drag a bit but for the most part this is a well paced adventure story. It is hard for me to explain why I enjoy the writing of Lansdale in these period pieces. He is be able to catch the tone of the era but also captures the cadence of the language. His dialogue and phrasing just sound right in my mind's ear, if you know what I mean. What I can say for sure is that this book as well as The Bottoms and The Thicket have all been among my top books over the last several years.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
February 15, 2017
This is a historical fiction about the famous black cowboy/buffalo soldier, Nat Love (1858-1920) in the 1870s. On Independence Day, 1876, in Deadwood, South Dakota the town put on a shooting contest. Love won all the events in the shooting contest. The towns people proclaimed him to be Deadwood Dick because of his performance.

Lansdale tells of his early life as a 20-year-old ex-slave. He fled a lynch mob for looking at a white woman and headed west. He became a buffalo soldier and the story becomes fascinating.

Lansdale is a master storyteller. The book is well written; the plot, pace and character development is excellent. The story is told in the first-person narration. There is humor, action, and overall a good old fashion western story. There was frequently in the story a play on words, in a humors way, that was unexpected in a western.

The book won the 2016 Spur Award for the Best Historical Western.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Brad Sanders does an excellent job narrating the book. He has a great voice that is perfect for a western story. The book is fourteen hours long.
Profile Image for Steve.
962 reviews97 followers
March 24, 2016
4.5 stars, rounded down

Western tales are known for embellishments, and with the liberties Lansdale takes with the story of Nat Love (Deadwood Dick), this greater-than-life man moves from myth to legend.

The dialogue is exceptional, and makes this book nearly irresistible. I listened to the Audible version, and Brad Sanders was simply the best narrator for this story, his deep baritone perfect for this book. He takes Lansdale’s perfect imagery of the western plains, and transports the listener there. You could almost hear the wind blowing through the sage and the mesquite, while the fire cracks.

As with most westerns, it’s a simple plot: young Willie Jackson’s life takes a disastrous turn because he happened upon the sight of a married woman's derriere. Slavery is over in the legal sense down south, but Willie has to flee for his life, an enraged/insane husband hot on his trail with a posse/lynch mob just itchin’ to get their hands on him. At each turn, a series of outlandish occurrences propel this hapless young man to become the renowned “Deadwood Dick. Amidst all the death, hatred, and carnage, it's the humor he finds in almost every situation that keeps the reader turning pages just to see what happens.

I’m definitely not a fan of westerns, though, and at about the 60% point, the book started getting tedious for me, which knocked it down from 4.5 to 4 stars. It just felt like it was getting too long, and revenge stories can usually only play out so far. Add to the fact that this is a revenge times two, it was almost too much. I probably won’t read it again, but it was fun for most of the book.

Recommended. Historians won’t give this book a passing grade, but lovers of westerns will find quite a lot of enjoyment in this novel.
Profile Image for stefano.
188 reviews128 followers
November 14, 2019

In questa intervista Lansdale spiega benissimo come intenda i suoi libri: io non voglio fare grande letteratura, voglio scrivere delle storie.
Parole sante.
Leggevo Lansdale e meditavo, ché non sono mica l'ultimo dei cretini. E meditando ho formulato due interessantissime riflessioni - mi dispiace che Umby sia trapassato, non posso sottoporgliele - sullo stato attuale della letteratura, in Italia e non solo. Ma soprattutto in Italia.
La prima riflessione è che mancano le storie. Perché Lansdale è bravo? Perché racconta una storia. Perché Scerbanenco è bravo? Perché racconta una storia. Perché Stephen King, Céline, Roth, Welsh, McCourt, Singer, Hašek e altri quattro o cinque sono bravi? Perché raccontano storie. Perché Baricco fa cagare è meno bravo? Perché sa solo lui cosa significano quelle parole che mette appresso l'una all'altra. Sia detto con rispetto, chiaro, sono io che non lo capisco. Al giorno d'oggi, signora mia, si sta perdendo il gusto di raccontare storie. E anche quello di ascoltarle. Sembra quasi sminuente raccontare le avventure di un cowboy negro che si accoppia con cinesi dotate di gamba di legno, spara e ammazza, rissa, cavalca, mangia fagioli e talvolta scorreggia. Di quest'ultimo fatto non sono proprio sicuro, delle scorregge dico, non sono sicuro che sia il cowboy a farle, ma qualcuno che le fa, nel romanzo, c'è di sicuro.
Ricapitolando: mancano le storie. Mancano i racconti. Manca la voglia di sedersi per un'ora e ascoltare qualcuno che racconta qualcosa. Manca l'aspirazione - fine a sé stessa - di trascorrere bene quell'ora, senza secondi fini. Senza montarsi la testa convinti di leggere grande letteratura. E ora, signora mia, qui lo dico e subito dopo mi sciacquo la bocca: la grande letteratura non esiste. Mi sono svegliato ispirato, stamattina. La grande letteratura è frutto del caso. La grande letteratura è una bella storia raccontata bene. La grande letteratura la fanno Lansdale, Céline e il pizzaiolo mio quando racconta storie - infarcite di balle - di quando era ragazzino e faceva il cameriere in quel ristorante al porto. Peccato non le scriva, davvero un peccato.
Precisando la ricapitolazione: quando ci sono le storie, moltissime volte, sono solo un pretesto per dare lustro al punto di vista dell'autore. Ora mi viene in mente Porazzi, e non se ne abbia a male, ma anche Carlotto sembra soffrire le stesse pene: c'è il mondo, c'è la mia visione, e ora te la racconto inventando due personaggi. Niente di male, anzi. Pure nei Viaggi di Gulliver si avverte il punto di vista dell'autore, ecco, però io ritengo che uno scrittore bravo scompaia dietro la storia e non spunti dietro ogni paragrafo facendo l'occhiolino. Se la storia ci fa riflettere, poi, tanto meglio, senza il bisogno che l'autore gonfi il petto bullandosi di quanto sia intelligente, lui, e quanto ci pensa, alle robe che scrive. Insomma, ovvio che Porazzi e soprattutto Franzen non c'entrano nulla con Swift, però accontentatevi: anche io non sono Natalino Sapegno.
Ulteriore precisazione alla prima riflessione: apprezziamo in particolar modo quegli scrittori che fanno un libro tutto incasinato, senza storia, o con la storia estremamente arzicomplicata, e tutto ciò per dimostrare che la letteratura, la vita, l'universo mondo, sono oscuri e non hanno senso. Bravi, complimenti, dopo i quattordici anni però dovreste finirla. A questo proposito non smetterò mai di citare un poeta emiliano, astro di riferimento in questo palcoscenico in cui come maschere diafane ci muoviamo raminghe e spaesate. È inutile che fatichiamo, perché, diceva il poeta: questa vita un senso non ce l'ha. Appuratolo, ciò, e memori che Ionesco, Beckett e Piero Manzoni sono passati sulla terra – invano per alcuni – andiamo avanti e torniamo a raccontare storie, ché se la vita non ha senso, è complicata, etc. etc., ci pensa quel tale di Zocca a ricordarcelo.
Che fatica, riflettere. Mi sa che scrivo un romanzo con protagonista uno scrittore filosofo affranto dalle pene letterarie, così posso dare libero sfogo alle sciocchezze che mi ronzano in testa. Ma non lo farò, promesso. Al massimo racconterò storielle scorreggione, con frizzi, lazzi e qualche rutto.
Seconda riflessione, strettamente collegata alla precisazione alla prima riflessione: manca il senso dell'umorismo. Quando anche c'è la storia, e quando questa storia è scritta abbastanza bene da far scomparire il narratore, ecco che fa capolino il problema oggetto di questa seconda riflessione, per l'appunto: la pesantezza. Una storia, per essere bella e attraente, deve essere accattivante. E per me non esiste niente di più accattivante di un po' di sano e genuino senso dell'umorismo, anche senza scomodare la signora imbellettata del nostro scrittore preferito di tutti i tempi. Torniamo a bomba: la vita è difficile, la letteratura pure, i romanzi che tristezza, i protagonisti sono corrucciati, alla fine tutti avremo due metri di terreno (manco più, ormai, se va bene ci tocca un loculo in coabitazione), e però che noia, senza senso dell'umorismo ogni storia diventa un mattone insopportabile. Sarà letteratura, ma preferisco vedermi una partita in tv. Attenzione, con tutto ciò non voglio dire che dobbiamo ridurre la letteratura a Lino Banfi che si dà botte sulla chepa o Tomas Milian che schiaffeggia Bombolo (anche perché è cinema, quello, non letteratura, cretino), ma però nemmeno a Marcello Fois o Cristian Raimo, che ho capito che siete scrittori e sapete un sacco di cose, ma sorridete ogni tanto, dai, tanto moriamo uguale.
Prendiamo Céline: racconta disgrazie, schifezze, miserie varie dell'animo umano, però lo fa con una bella storia di mezzo e tante risate, seppure amare. Lo stesso McCourt: non è forse triste Le ceneri di Angela? Mai letto niente di più triste, io. Eppure è un libro leggero, stupendo, da leggere tre volte di seguito e poi iniziare di nuovo. Prendiamo invece l'Albinati, che mi viene il fiatone solo a nominarlo. Bravo, eh, figuriamoci, però, allora, ecco, accidenti, non si dovrebbe dire, insomma: non c'è la storia, c'è solo l'autore, non si ride mai, nemmeno si sorride, si fa solo una fatica bestiale, e pensare che tutte le parole che usa sarebbero state sufficienti, abbinate in modo diverso, a raccontare due e forse tre avventure di Hap e Leonard.

Tutto questo ragionamento intelligentissimo – se avessi diciassette anni sicuro che avrei conquistato la tipa di II B con le mie chiacchiere, quant'era carina – per dire che Lansdale, ecco, lui racconta storie, le racconta bene e il senso dell'umorismo non gli manca. Quindi, se volete trascorrere un'ora in modo costruttivo, poggiate quel Franzen che avete tra le mani e correte a comprare Lansdale (non dovrei dirlo, ma ho una percentuale sulle vendite).

Ultima cosa. Paradise Sky è ambientato quando c'è la battaglia di Little Big Horn. Nat Love sta andando a una gara di tiro e gli arriva notizia che il generale Custer è morto. 1876, dice Wikipedia. Molte pagine dopo compare un personaggio che si chiama Pinocchio Joe cosí soprannominato, si diceva, per via del lungo naso con la punta che si piegava leggermente a formare un uncino. Sempre Wikipedia sostiene che Le avventure di Pinocchio risalga al 1881-1882 e sia stato tradotto, per la prima volta in inglese, nel 1892. Ora, magari da quando Nat si iscrive alla gara di tiro a quando incontra Pinocchio Joe passando diversi anni (non è che Lansdale si dia troppa pena per regalarci una cronologia accurata), però secondo me quel tizio non si poteva chiamare Pinocchio. Oppure Pinocchio era un nomignolo che si usava anche prima, per indicare qualcuno provvisto di naso lungo? E quel nomignolo era utilizzato anche in America? Oppure Lansdale ha dato un nome diverso ed è stato il traduttore a usare Pinocchio? Non saprei, dovrei cercare l'ebook in inglese e non ne ho voglia.

Però mi è venuta voglia di rileggere Pinocchio.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,575 reviews74 followers
February 4, 2023
This novel is fricken *amazing*. It’s also different from what I thought it would be.. and much better. At no point during reading it, did I become bored with what was happening. I was enjoying every minute of it. Loosely based on the true story of African American cowboy Nat Love (1854-1921), this fast-paced Western with its multicultural cast of characters is a winner.
Lansdale is such a fantastic author, he can seriously write about any genres and *in* any time period, without an issue. His folksy fictional memoir is filled with dashing heroes, dastardly bad guys, and some seriously rollicking adventures. And the characters are so well written and fully fleshed, with these hilarious sense of humors, which I adore..! This novel really brings to mind Larry McMurtry and Thomas Berger in their prime. Paradise Sky is a rowdy, funny, suspenseful, and often quite moving yarn, and it made me very happy.
Yes, I am definitely going to continue to read each and every one of the Lansdale novels my library has. But like Dick Francis, I will read these novels occasionally, in between all the other novels I consume each year, rather like a sweet treat after a long, hard day…. They really do seem to me to be a real treat, too.

Brad Sanders is the narrator for the audiobook version of this novel, and he was absolutely perfect for this role. I don’t think anyone else could have picked a better narrator for the audiobook than Sanders. His rich, deep, and talented voice could have read me the phone book, and I would have been almost as captivated… but it’s the way Sanders made all the characters into separate and singular people that shows his true talent.
This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to with Mr. Sanders on it, but I certainly hope it isn’t my last…! Hachette Audio (and maybe even all the other audiobook publishers) need to snap up this man, before someone else does, because he is truly that great. I wish Brad Sanders a truly long and happy career in narrating audiobooks in the future. Meanwhile, I’ve put More Better Deals (by Lansdale) on hold at my library.

If you haven’t read this novel yet, what are you waiting for? I’m giving it 4.5 stars, and it’s highly recommended.
Profile Image for Beverly.
1,617 reviews339 followers
July 12, 2021
I wholeheartedly enjoyed this engaging rambunctious adventurous story based loosely on the life of African-American cowboy Nat Love a.k.a. Deadwood Dick. Gritty, brutal but wonderfully addictive as humor, perseverance, and a pinch of luck showcases the time, the 1870s, and place, the frontier, from the point-of¬-view of an African-American. A colorful cast of secondary characters (and the appearances of known Wild West persons) adds to the enjoyment of the story. The landscape is also a character that in its harshness and beauty moves this fast-paced story along as you expect a well-done Western movie. But it is the author’s rendering of Nat’s voice that makes this book soar. I felt like a kid sitting around a campfire wide-eyed in wonderment as Nat geared his storytelling to my laughing, crying, and sighing. Overall, Paradise Sky is a beautifully crafted unputdownable novel and is most definitely my top recommendation for a summer read.

This book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ed.
632 reviews56 followers
June 25, 2015
"Paradise Sky" is a classic western novel about the life and times of Nat Love aka "Deadwood Dick" and might be the best western novel I've ever read with the exception of "The Thicket", also written by Joe Lansdale. Nat Love is a truly unforgettable protagonist trying initially to just survive as a young black man on the run from a lynch mob in post civil war East Texas. Without giving away the plot lines, Nat's odyssey is as original and entertaining a journey by a master storyteller I've ever read. The author's witty 19th century western dialogue, descriptive prose and action oriented pacing combined with Nat's character, wit and heart make this an exceptional and unforgettable read. It's a worthy investment of your time and money and you won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Stephen.
514 reviews152 followers
November 7, 2016
Really enjoyable and amusing read based on the real life story of Nat Love, slave turned cowboy.
Section featuring Wild Bill Hickock had me thinking that I'd somehow read this before but eventually realised that it was Little Big Man that it reminded me of. I think that I slightly preferred this to that which is a pretty strong endorsement of it.

Will definitely be reading more Joe Lansdale - excited to have found a new favourite author who has loads of books that I haven't read yet !
Profile Image for Federica Lup.
70 reviews8 followers
September 20, 2020
Ambientato nel Far West a fine Ottocento, non ci si aspetta certo di leggere storie felici, gioiose e rassicuranti. Infatti il libro è pieno di avvenimenti crudi e crudeli, ingiustizie di ogni sorta, omicidi e tutto ciò che di più putrido vi viene in mente. C'è povertà, razzismo, misoginia, sporcizia e disperazione.

È un Lansdale brillante e il suo stile unico è riconoscibile in ogni parola, come il suo umorismo disseminato tra mille situazioni tragiche.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,214 reviews551 followers
September 8, 2015
Long tale told by an intriguing voice of Willie who becomes Nat Love. It was a book that centers on Deadwood back in the day of Wild Bill, lawless constant violence and reckless drunken hilarity in turns. That period before the railroads, yet after the Civil War. 1870's. But the travel in Texas and between Kansas/Arkansas was interesting despite the nasty bits of ripe description that I did skim through at times. This book held more dead flesh than a Chicago morgue after a summer weekend.

As much as I liked and was interested in our main character's adventures and retaliations- the body count and methods of dispatch got a bit too much for me at times. Yet, the learning and the practice of using those weapons was particularly enjoyed, especially during the shooting contest. And Satan, his duplicitous mount was a delightful constant.

Another good Joe R. Lansdale, a man's book, grit. lit. This one just a tad too long, but Deadwood Dick's story and his voice strong entertainment.
Profile Image for Brandon Nagel.
371 reviews17 followers
September 16, 2016
Absolutely incredible. This might be himself's greatest work to date. Must read if you are a Lansdale fan.
Profile Image for Bill.
1,525 reviews106 followers
June 29, 2022
Another super solid tale from Joe. This guy is so good. Really damn good.
Profile Image for Fabio.
429 reviews50 followers
April 3, 2020
Welcome to Deadwood
Tre stelle e mezza, per il buon vecchio zio Joe. Non sono particolarmente appassionato di western (eufemismo), ma è stata una lettura assai piacevole - e da tanto non mi capitava con Lansdale! Interessante come abbia plasmato materiale attinto dalla reale storia del Vecchio West: personaggi, luoghi e avvenimenti sono reali o realistici, con una spruzzata dell'allegria caciarona che ha sempre caratterizzato l'Autore.

Visto che l'ho letto con un occhio al web, per capire cosa era reale e cosa licenza poetica, ho scoperto collateralmente il pluriacclamato Deadwood, che col libro di Lansdale spartisce ambientazione e diversi personaggi (in sovrappiù ci ritrovo un Timothy Olyphant ancora senza moglie non-morta, e uno strepitoso Ian McShane pre-Mr. Wednesday).
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,321 followers
July 1, 2015
Joe R. Lansdale has shown throughout his illustrious career to be an accomplished writer in many genres. Longtime admirers like myself know him primarily in the horror and thriller genres in which he wrote extensively when I discovered him in the 80s. But even then he wrote a few westerns, most noticeably The Magic Wagon and the before-its-time zombie Western, Dead in the West. Lately though, he seems to be focusing on Westerns again. His last novel, The Thicket, was a True Grit style tale of Western revenge and justice. It is also one of his best. But Lansdale has upped the ante, so to speak, with his newest novel, Paradise Sky. This new book carries similar themes yet goes beyond them and becomes a true epic of the West.

Paradise Sky is a very fictional account of an actual historical figure: a black cowboy and sharpshooter named Nat Love who was later nicknamed Deadwood Dick after winning a shooting contest in Deadwood City. In Lansdale's meticulous storytelling style, Nat was originally named Willie and was forced on the run in the Post Civil War South for glancing at a white woman's posterior. As Nat puts it, "I will admit to a bit of true curiosity as to how that backside of hers was far more attractive than the front, but I wasn't about no mischief of any kind." The enraged husband murders Willie's father and vows to hunt him down. Willie takes refuge with a man by the name of William Loving who teaches him to ride and to shoot among other helpful things. But soon Willie is forced to go on the run again and takes on the name of Nat Love as he journeys into the West.

Paradise Sky is full of daring deeds and momentous discoveries and it is best for the reader to discover them on his own. It is sufficient to say that the pursuit for Nat Love never stops and our hero is eventually forced to face his pursuers in a act of justice and revenge. If the author wrote a simple revenge tale it still would have been memorable. However, Paradise Sky is a tableau of Western mythology with legends like Wild Bill Hickok and Bass Reeves being peppered in to provide color and authenticity. But Nat Love is the focus of the story and it is his struggles against injustice and the ever prevailing aura of racism that makes this book so alive. Lansdale has always had a keen sense of American history and the prevalence of racial conflicts in America, That is certainly true here. Couple that with his endless gift for incredibly witty and real sounding dialog and it makes for a invigorating read that entertains but doesn't sugarcoat our history.

Lansdale often writes about his East Texas surroundings and, because of that, some might call him a regionalist. Yet it is books like Paradise Sky that belies that idea. Taking place in a range from Texas to South Dakota and over a span of years, Paradise Sky is a true American Western epic of a novel written by one that can merge the romanticism of the West with a socially honest and sometimes brutal realism. Whether writing about present day East Texas, the Depression, or the 19th century frontier, Lansdale manages to not only tell us a riveting story but confronts us with truths about our own interactions and the way we treat others.

Profile Image for Gef.
Author 7 books63 followers
October 27, 2015
It is near impossible for me not to fall in love with a Lansdale novel at this point. He's become one of my favorite authors for the simple fact that his well-honed brand of storytelling draws me in each time like a moth to a flame, though I don't get burned, but I do get marked each and every time. A Lansdale tale is something you carry with you well after you've read it.

It's his crime fiction that hooked me years ago, but I've come to really appreciate his westerns, and Paradise Sky is a corker.

Western tales from the old days were known for ... embellishments, and with the liberties Lansdale takes with the real history of Nat Love through this novel, it makes the man a myth, and the myth a man all at the same time. For that alone, I'd give this book high praise, but throw in the delectable way with dialogue Lansdale is known for and this book is just irresistible.

Essentially, we meet Young Willie just as his life takes an unexpected and disastrous turn, and all because he happened upon the sight of a married woman's rear end. Slavery days are over in the legal sense down south, but a lynch mob comes together in no time flat to hunt down Willie. At the behest of his father, Willie flees the farm with an insanely irate husband on his trail. At each turn, the series of occurrences that propel a hapless son of a former slave to become a renowned cowboy known as Deadwood Dick could be called outlandish, but life's funny like that. And amidst all the death and hate and carnage that chases our young protagonist, it's that twinkle of humor that keeps you turning pages just to see what'll happen next.

I don't know if historians will give this book a passing grade for its accuracy, but western lovers and lovers of stories in general ought to find nothing but enjoyment from this novel. Is this Lansdale's best work yet? Bah, who can tell when the man has penned so many tremendous novels. I'd dare say The Thicket from a couple years back is better, at least for my own personal enjoyment, but Paradise Sky is hot on its heels.
Profile Image for Scott Bell.
Author 14 books103 followers
October 23, 2015
The thing that sets Joe Lansdale apart from other writers is his ability to write "in character"--completely immersing the reader in the narrator's POV. His voice is as natural and fluid as an East Texas bayou, using references as tasty as mama's cornbread and metaphors as country as a John Deere tractor.

Paradise Sky showed us the ugliness of prejudice without shrinking, and captured the spirit of a man who rose above it. My only complaint with the book was that it began to lag in the final 100-or-so pages, dropping into a sleepy lull before the finish. I got the feeling Lansdale had to meet a word count limit and so extended the tale a bit longer than necessary, killing the pacing somewhat. I admit I started skimming toward the end, looking for the final confrontation to start.

Bittersweet, as many of Lansdale's works are, Paradise Sky tells a story of great pain and great triumph, mixed with humor, wit, and insight.
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