Any book by The Mojo Man is worth owning, and Unchained and Unhinged is no exception.

Unchained and Unhinged is a Subterranean Press limited edition and it contains, more or less equally, essays and short stories.

The essays deal mostly with writing. Joe gives invaluable tips to novice writers and he blows the lid off of the myth of the typewriter as the only honorable way to write. He also talks about books and writers he loves. It was pleasantly entertaining to read his thoughts on Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs in a couple of them, and he speaks of the magical words of Henry Kuttner in another.

Joe also wrote about a writer that I'd heard of, but had never read: Leslie Whitten. When Joe said that Whitten's book, Progeny of the Adder, was an obvious precursor to Jeff Rice's The Night Stalker, I knew I had to read him. I made a quick trip to Marketplace and I hope to be raving about Whitten somewhere at the Drive-In soon.

I only wish Joe had done one about Doc Savage.

The essays were the Unchained section of the book. The fiction is Lansdale Unhinged.

These stories show a slightly different Lansdale than many readers may be aware of. The first two, Surveillance and Coat, would have seemed right at home in those wonderful Shock collections that Richard Matheson published in the 1960's. The next few were pure Lansdale. Bradbury's voice rings in some of the stories, too.

But my very favorite is the final story in Unchained and Unhinged. It's called Rainy Weather, and it's a hard, nasty piece of dark noir. The language is spare, but with economy and precision Joe establishes a character and makes the reader feel his hopelessness and need. He meets a stranger, who offers him a chance to start again. If he agrees to commit a ghastly act. Rainy Season is, for me, one of Joe's very finest short stories.

This book is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He did the Texas Gothic cover and there's a piece for all ten of the short stories.

Unchained and Unhinged is a bit slender for the price tag, but when you weigh in the essays, stories, and the illustrations, it's a great deal that no Mojo fan should be without. It's a typically stunning Subterranean Press edition.

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