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Tight Little Stitches on a Dead Man's Back

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  241 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
They did it — they launched the damned nukes and the world went pretty much straight to hell. Not many survived, but some of those who did emerged twenty years later, to a world where mutant whales heaved themselves across the blackened, dry seabed of the Pacific, and the roses… oh God, the roses.

“Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back” is a chilling post-nuclear short
Paperback, 46 pages
Published March 1st 1992 by Pulphouse Publishing
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Althea Ann
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not for me. If you like horror that's gross just for the sake of being gross, you may feel differently.

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of dangerous and poisonous mutants, a nuclear engineer wallows in his guilt and his wife's hatred, while nursing a bizarre obsession with the daughter who died in the atomic blasts.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, 2012-reads
It is easy to see why this story won the Bram Stoker. It is a gem from a master. Devastating in its bleakness as it shows not only the desolated land left by a nuclear apocalypse but also the blighted landscape of the hearts and souls of those left behind to do perhaps nothing more than prolong the moment of their death. The first to die clearly are the lucky ones because what do the survivors do to fill the void of those who are gone? To make this disturbing story all the more unsettling the fi ...more
Excellent short story I found for free on

I love post-apocalyptic stories and this, so far, is one of the better written and original ones I have come across. Highly recommended.

(view spoiler)
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, horror, 2012, kindle
This is a low rating for a Joe Lansdale book from me. Normally I would wax lyrical over his plotting, characterisation and dialogue.

That's the problem with this tale of post apocalypse woe - the plot doesn't twist much, there are few characters and even less dialogue.

He still manages to put in his unusual analogies, but with out the characters to riff on they felt flattter than usual.

There are still some wonderfully descriptive passages, but without the emotional investement in the characters I
Clark Hallman
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back by Joe R. Lansdale: This very morbid short story is told by the main character’s journal which he refers to in his writings as Mr. Journal. The journal writer and his wife are alone trying to survive in a lighthouse in a post-apocalyptic world after a nuclear holocaust. His wife hates him because she blames him for the death of their daughter. Lansdale describes their painful existence in his usual detailed and ruthless manner. This story won a Bram Sto ...more
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-fiction
Another really good piece of short fiction from Joe R. Lansdale that Kindle readers can presently get free from Amazon. This is one of Joe's bleaker stories and that is saying a lot. It is also a scarce example of post-apocalyptic writing from the "Champion Mojo Storyteller". He is entering Brian Keene territory with this little grosser-outer. If that last sentence doesn't scare you away then I recommend it.
Jennifer Wardrip
Truly effed up in typical Lansdale fashion. And, yes, I mean that as a compliment.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dark, bleak, and utterly brilliant. In the first few paragraphs of this short story Lansdale illustrates characters with an authentic richness that many authors fail to do in an entire book. This excellently penned story takes the format of the first and last entries of what may be the last man on earth, surviving in a lighthouse with his hateful wife. Surrounded by strange creatures, and ravaged by guilt and sorrow over the death of his daughter, our protagonist writes in a futile attempt to re ...more
A perfect story that's as tight as the stitches in the protagonist's mutilated back. A convergence of sci-fi, horror, and the post-apocalypse, but the dominant theme is the destructive power of guilt. If you only know Lansdale for his crime novels, you know he's a master plotter. This story is proof that he's just as deft with language. Disturbingly lovely.
Venus Maneater
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: free
Read here:

Dystopian, all hope lost. Mutant whales, giant lizards and carnivorous roses. This is what the bombs did to the world, and there is no salvation.

Short but lovely read, makes me want to look up more by Lansdale.
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
What if your scientific research brought about the end of the world and you had survived? A strange tale.
Jette Harris
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A brilliant and engrossing vision of post-apocalyptic life, told in a raw, unapologetic voice.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book starts off in a very depressing way, as a couple copes with their daughter’s death. Daily the wife works on a tattoo of their daughter exploding out of a nuclear mushroom, and each day the father practices his taekwondo, to rip open the new tattoo's stitches, which makes the tattoo daughter's eyes cry blood. There is a reason behind this oddity, but I would be giving away the story.

This is a psychological story, and along the way, the author does some world building: with what the eart
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tight Little Stitches In A Dead Man's Back is a spectacular little short that I stumbled upon quite by accident. I remember seeing this as a freebie offering on Amazon a few months ago but actually passed it by because I'm not usually fond of short stories, but I was recently recommended it here on Goodreads and I'm very glad that I picked it up at last.

I really enjoyed the concept of this novel; it was a little zombie apocalypse meets day of the triffids - sounds strange I know. It is strange.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, l
Browsing Amazon and looking for availability on a couple of Lansdale’s missing Hap and Leonard books, I happened upon a few Lansdale freebies, of which this was one. Not sure if this should really count towards my year end books read total, as it could be a short story or a novella, but has been released on its own as a chapbook in the past. Anyway I’m claiming it.

I think Lansdale, the “Champion Mo-jo Storyteller” (self-proclaimed?), won the Bram Stoker award for this tale of survival in a post-
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il dopobomba è terrificante. E tua figlia è rimasta fuori dal rifugio e tua moglie ti incolpa e anneghi nel rimorso.
L'unico modo per farti toccare ancora dalla madre di tua figlia è permetterle di farti un tatuaggio sulla schiena. Doloroso.
E fin qui sarebbe fantascienza, poi l'horror fa capolino e assume una delle forme più delicate in natura.
Lisa Cleveland
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't my favorite story by Mr. Lansdale and I had planned on just giving it 3 stars, but the ending really got to me and it ended up making the whole tale well worth it. Yep, I'd recommend this story and author.
Dec 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I ran across this when I first got my Kindle and was searching for some freebies to get a feel for the gadget. This is a satisfying short along the vein of "The Ruins" and "I am Legend". Written in diary entry form and with a little push could probably have made a pretty decent horror novel.
Brandon Petry
"Mornings I greet the flowers, their bright red and yellow blooms bursting from the heads of long-dead bodies that will not rot. The flowers open wide to reveal their little black brains and their feathery feelers, and they lift their blooms upward and moan."
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
End of The World

A tale of a world after a nuclear war. A group from a bow base explores and finds a hostile environment. For humans anyway.

A unique story only as Lansdale could write.
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to give this book 3 stars because it was so disturbing but I don't think a book deserves three stars because it wasn't of my taste. So I'm giving this book 5 stars because it is a good story it was very touching.
Dylan Perry

Its always interesting reading the early works of authors I love even when those beginnings can be hit-or-miss. Overall this was a delightfully twisted short story that, while not the best, is still worth your time.
Rosa M.
Apr 22, 2012 rated it liked it
This was an interesting story, and I didn't expect where it was going. It was an inventive plot, and very scary.
Adam Light
I love this story. This was my introduction to Lansdale, a bleak and disturbing tale. Do yourself a favor and read it.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bought into the horror way more than I did the people
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
A small chapbook from Pulphouse Publishing containing just the one title story.
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing

This is a creepy little mind fuck of a book - May never go a smell a rose again in my life....

Dec 02, 2011 marked it as to-read
Free on Amazon
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far the best of Lansdale

I really like Joe Lansdale's style of writing. Only issue with this is it's a short story. I want more.
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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-e ...more
More about Joe R. Lansdale...