Fish Night by Joe Lansdale
Section: Mazes and Traps
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5 Rating
About the author:
Joe Lansdale is an American writer who has published over thirty novels and numerous short stories. He has received the Edgar Award, nine Bram Stoker, the Grizane Cavour Prize for literature, and many others. HIs novella Bubba Ho-Tep was filmed by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis, and had become a cult classic. He lives and works in Nacogdoches, Texas. This story was first published in the Arbor House Books anthology Specter! in 1982.
You ever read a book, where the ending leaving stunned, mouth hanging open, and then you suddenly burst out laughing as tears roll down your face? Fish Night has that kind of ending 😄
An old man and young man are driving down a long road in the desert when their Plymouth dies. Unless another car comes along, it looks like they will be stuck until morning when they can walk to the next town. As the old and young man talk, the old man tells the young man about his car broke down here, on this same roads, many years ago. And that when he stuck out here last time, he saw fishes swimming. Naturally, young man looks at him like he is crazy old man.
From my introduction paragraph and synopsis, you should realize that this is a weird story. Good, but weird.
What I liked immediately was Lansdale’s prose and his narrative style. But as I learned while reading the story, these are also quite weird. For example:
The air trembled like a mass of gelatinous ectoplasm.
Yellow sweat-explosions stained the pits of his white shirt.
Both of these sentences provided excellent imagery, but the choice words selected and similes he creates made me stop, laugh, and read those lines again! These are both found before you are even halfway down the first page! And the weird/funny style continues in the characters as well.
Obviously, the old man claiming to have saw fish swimming in the desert is weird, and even though it is a speculative story, you can guess that it more likely going to be true rather than false, because he is called they style in which Lansdale write (the weirdness), how the characters are called “the old man” and “the young man”, you really believe the old man is crazy.
He tells the young man how he was here before, saw the fishes, told a Navajo indians about it, and his theory about the indians belief in “manitou” (all things have spirits). How the young man reacts to this, supports the possibility that the old might be crazy. And then as the story professions, and more events happen – including the ending (if you want to know what it is, read my Spolierific Speculations – I was convinced that the old man was bat sh!t crazy.
There is time-travel here too. But it comes from the old man. And while it may hold water, because it comes from old man, it still sounds ludicrous 😄
Spolierific Speculations: (Highlight to read)
The old man time-travels to the past of the fish’s time, and he becomes a ghost like them, swimming the ancient sea with the fishes. The young man watches this, but then see’s a giant shadow cross the moon. It is a giant shark. That giant shark then eats the old man 😄 😄
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Are all of Joe Lansdale’s stories as funny and weird as thing?! If so, I need to read more by this author!
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See you next Thursday for The Lost Pilgrim by Gene Wolfe