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Author Topic: Pseudopod 344: The Pit  (Read 7580 times)
eytanz
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« on: July 28, 2013, 08:58:26 AM »

Pseudopod 344: The Pit

by Joe R. Landsdale

“The Pit” originally appeared in THE BLACK LIZARD ANTHOLOGY OF CRIME FICTION (1987) (“and this was the original Black Lizard line, before it was owned by Random House”). Joe describes the story as “Alice In Wonderland meets Southern Gothic.”

JOE R. LANSDALE has written over thirty books, and numerous short stories. He has won a multitude of awards, including the Edgar for his novel THE BOTTOMS, and his novella BUBBA HO-TEP was made into the popular film starring Bruce Campbell. His current book is EDGE OF DARK WATER, and forthcoming in September is THE THICKET, both from Mulholland Books. Joe blogs here and you can also follow him on Facebook.

Your reader this week – John Bell – is the president, CEO, and Lord Emeritus of John Bell Creative, LLC. Need voices, writing, or production? Write jbellvoice@gmail.com. If you like odd books (imagine Douglas Adams meets Timothy Leary) go get the audiobook version of THE BIG BLEEP. Coming soon, probably in August, another book voiced by yours truly: REVELATIONS. In the meantime, catch the laughs at Bell’s In The Batfry.


“Six months earlier they had captured him. Tonight Harry went into the pit. He and Big George, right after the bull terriers got through tearing the guts out of one another. When that was over, he and George would go down and do their business. The loser would stay there and be fed to the dogs, each of which had been starved for the occasion.

When the dogs finished eating, the loser’s head would go up on a pole. Already a dozen poles circled the pit. On each rested a head, or skull, depending on how long it had been exposed to the elements, ambitious pole-climbing ants and hungry birds. And of course how much flesh the terriers ripped off before it was erected.

Twelve poles. Twelve heads.

Tonight a new pole and a new head went up.”




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2013, 09:01:21 AM by eytanz » Logged
flintknapper
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2013, 09:08:11 AM »

I was really primed for this story. I am actually in the process of rereading Off Season by Ketchum. Like Ketchum, Lansdale is one of the classic splatterpunk authors. I’m not sure splatterpunk is still considered a subgenre, but it is what I remember it being called in the 90s. I was a little surprised this piece was touted as Southern Gothic. I am not saying that this piece does not also fit within that subgenre, but for me Lansdale (in particular this piece) is splatterpunk.

Because of the author’s notoriety, I knew what I was getting into and the violence in this one did not bother me. I could look past it…. I think there is a lot of underlying social commentary going on and this story did a good job of speaking without sounding preachy.

Speaking of preachy, my favorite relationship was between the preacher and the snakes. It was in some ways cliché and just a tad over the top, but it had me smiling when he was breathing life back into his little buddy and then his little buddy bites him. There are also some strong parallels between the snake and our hero/killer.

My only beef with the story is the red necks being racist and bible thumpers. That is just a little too common as a trope in my book. If you are going to go that route shake it up a bit. That being said, this criticism should be taken with a grain of salt. Lansdale is great author and I love his work.
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jpv
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2013, 11:07:44 AM »

That was a bit on the unexpected side for me.

Going in, I didn't know a thing about the author or story, so the rather visceral nature of the story was a bit of a shock. It's solid though and certainly got my fight or flight response riled up. That's the best sort of horror fiction.

I particularly liked the interaction between the two men in the pit and the protagonists memories of his boring life. It just felt so depressingly real...
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2013, 11:20:36 AM »

Quote
My only beef with the story is the red necks being racist and bible thumpers. That is just a little too common as a trope in my book. If you are going to go that route shake it up a bit. That being said, this criticism should be taken with a grain of salt. Lansdale is great author and I love his work.

It is perhaps worth noting that the story is 26 years old as well.

I'm very glad you enjoyed it!
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flintknapper
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2013, 12:50:07 PM »

Quote
My only beef with the story is the red necks being racist and bible thumpers. That is just a little too common as a trope in my book. If you are going to go that route shake it up a bit. That being said, this criticism should be taken with a grain of salt. Lansdale is great author and I love his work.

It is perhaps worth noting that the story is 26 years old as well.

I'm very glad you enjoyed it!

Ugh... I didnt know this tale was that old. That makes sense though. I can remember reading lansdale when I was listening to cannibal corpse and he had probably been writing for quite some time before that. That being said, I do not remember ever reading this particular story before.

Got a question though given the appearance of such a well known "modern mainstream" horror author. Should we expect more like this? Are you guys thinking about running things by Laymon or Barker?

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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2013, 01:46:08 PM »

350 is coming up... all I'll say at this point!
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BlueGildedCage
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2013, 07:24:56 AM »

Us gore/splatterpunk fans have got to be loving this!  Two stories in a row that are not only quality but also relentless.... Heaven. 

Interesting words from Alasdair re the different kinds of horror here.  I think misogyny could be added to that list, too.  It was pretty cold in that direction.

Last thing.  Is it just me or was there a ghost voice just behind Aladair's during the outro, at just after 47:00?  I went back a few times but couldn't make it out.  Since it was just after he talked about things 'hard-coded into language', it would be super cool if that was deliberate.  I'm hoping for Pseudopod-style subliminal messaging!  Did anyone else pick it up?
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midas68
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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2013, 04:56:18 PM »

350 is coming up... all I'll say at this point!


350?Huh  oh man you got to give more clues then that? 

Thanks so much for The Pit, I haven't listened to it yet as I've been finishing rereading the 2nd Dune book But I've been savoring the moment I do.

Lansdale is really not a SplatterPunk, But like Barker he has a tendency to show the ugliness of people who feel they are in a situation where they will not get caught for their indulgences. And Joe does it probably better then anyone.  And Yes Lansdale does have a liberal penchant to show stereotype racist white trash, which has indeed gotten old and tired but he often shows the other side as well.

This was one of my Fav Stories from the great 80's and I since my eyes have gone bad. I have been waiting to hear it for many years. So Mucho Thanks to you for bringing it to us.

Any chance of doing his "On the Far side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks"  story from the landmark Zombie Anthology "Book of the Dead"   which was actually the first time our generation really got a taste of Zombie Fiction. With Lansdales Stoker Winning story being the stand out of that near legendary anthology.

One could say it stayed in enough peoples minds as to become the delayed catalyst of this whole damn zombie takeover. Maybe, Who knows?   

It is a long story though but I would say it does have special significance.

Anyways, Keep up the Fantastic Work!!!
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2013, 08:15:40 PM »

Quote
350?Huh  oh man you got to give more clues then that? 

See the third post in this thread!

http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=7215.msg115636#msg115636

Glad you liked us doing "The Pit" - as for BOOK OF THE DEAD - yes, I have double copies of both paperbacks on my shelf.  Probably not the Lansdale story on the radar, but I always liked the Mort Castle Hemingway pastiche....

and thank you for the term "Fantastic Work"!
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midas68
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2013, 01:14:29 AM »

You are the Encrypt(ic) Keeper  hhahahahahahahha

Yes you are...

I'm still flabbergasted but Ill venture that the first line could just be either a Bloch story or The Pear Shaped Man by GRRM.

Remember one of the few actually well done Tales from the Crypt. The Hilarious one Bloch wrote about grandpa being to stubborn to......  A Case of the Stubborns was it's name.  Had a young Christian Slater in it but Grandpa Stole the damn show from the preacher who was a jug swiggin Data from Star Trek Next Gen.
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dragonsbreath
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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2013, 08:41:04 AM »

This is a great story. It is refreshing to have a story that does not hold back when it comes to language. Unless it is done for gratuitous reasons, the use of certain words should not be forbidden. In this story, that specific word was an integral part of the part of the story.

Alasdair made a comment about the use of that word that I thought was intriguing. He seems to be saying that getting too worked up about the word hides the true horror of racism. (Perhaps he can elaborate or correct my interpretation of his comment.) But I take it to mean that if someone states "I am not racist because I do not use the word" or to become indignant when it is used, it is not enough. It may be a cop-out to merely make such a statement without taking real action to fight racism.

I would also like to address other comments about the stereotyping of southern "rednecks." I wonder if those who wince at the use of that word, feel equally uncomfortable at the stereotypical vocabulary and vocalizations of the southern rednecks. That is the one group that can be safely mocked and made fun of.

Of course, I am probably not one to talk about the proper use of that word since I have intentionally refused to not use it in this commentary.
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midas68
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2013, 09:23:09 PM »

This is a great story. It is refreshing to have a story that does not hold back when it comes to language. Unless it is done for gratuitous reasons, the use of certain words should not be forbidden. In this story, that specific word was an integral part of the part of the story.

Alasdair made a comment about the use of that word that I thought was intriguing. He seems to be saying that getting too worked up about the word hides the true horror of racism. (Perhaps he can elaborate or correct my interpretation of his comment.) But I take it to mean that if someone states "I am not racist because I do not use the word" or to become indignant when it is used, it is not enough. It may be a cop-out to merely make such a statement without taking real action to fight racism.

I would also like to address other comments about the stereotyping of southern "rednecks." I wonder if those who wince at the use of that word, feel equally uncomfortable at the stereotypical vocabulary and vocalizations of the southern rednecks. That is the one group that can be safely mocked and made fun of.

Of course, I am probably not one to talk about the proper use of that word since I have intentionally refused to not use it in this commentary.

I think most would not wince, since it seems many who do wince at that word are the ones who often use the south and rednecks as a barometer of whats bad and with themselves always being on the opposite end of it.

Very common and hypocritical but hypocrites are very common.

I think both of you seem to be right on and are kinda referring to 'The Freedom of Speech God who died for our sins' Lenny Bruce.  It's a shame that people seem to have forgotten his lessons to us about dialog but not the vulgarity. Which wasn't his point at all!

Damn shame, We need that Openness and Honesty more then ever.

But anyway this was a Damn Good Story and that will have to due for now.
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zoanon
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2013, 02:40:38 PM »

yes, I was warned, but this was ugly and I didn't like it.

seems to be a trend for me on older stories, there was obviously a period in the horror genre that I don't care for.
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2013, 04:00:34 PM »

a little black comedy horror tomorrow....
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midas68
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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2013, 05:09:19 PM »

yes, I was warned, but this was ugly and I didn't like it.

seems to be a trend for me on older stories, there was obviously a period in the horror genre that I don't care for.


There are lessons of life that one can only find in Ugliness. That only Pain can teach you.

I understand not liking it. But sometimes that's part of the point.

I have to say the 80's and some of the early 90's was Horrors heyday. It did end up eating it's own tail but it was a Great Ride! 
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Metalsludge
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« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2013, 06:33:19 AM »

yes, I was warned, but this was ugly and I didn't like it.

seems to be a trend for me on older stories, there was obviously a period in the horror genre that I don't care for.


You and me both. I just didn't get the splatterpunk era and am glad it has settled down a bit since that time. I always felt like some of it was more self indulgent than instructive, not to mention boringly repetitive and pointlessly grim rather than going anyplace interesting. Though I don't necessarily direct any of that to this particular story.

And I do enjoy some Lansdale stories.  Smiley
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 06:39:58 AM by Metalsludge » Logged
evrgrn_monster
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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2013, 07:19:14 PM »

Ugh, the part with the eye. I thought I was pretty desensitized to gory details, but man. Actually stopped and said, "Oh, eeeewwwwwww," out loud while listening to this at the gym. (That fight scene got me pretty motivated to keep running though! Blood pumping action sequences are awesome motivation.)

I was very much a fan of this one, that being said. The narration was spot on, and the tension in the story-telling had me completely wired. For being such a relatively small, focused story, it felt remarkably full, with interesting characters and a truly horrifying situation. Great choice.

Also, I know nothing about UFC or any of that stuff, but listening to our good host talk about it made me want to look into it more. Why was the last season so bad? I want to know!
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midas68
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« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2013, 09:23:54 PM »

The TUFF seasons became trash when Dana wanted to incorporate more of the fake reality tv crap into it.

Such as acting like they peed in a jar and put it in the ice box and snicker when they ask they guy how it tastes and he says "Tart but not bad"

Nothing worse then people pretending to act real when it is obviously fake.

The new one has ladies acting like "Cunts"  for ratings. 

Maybe it's to draw in WWF fans but I think it's a slap in the face to people who put there health on the line for something that is pure will vs. will and to mock it with fake ass shite.

But they call that smart business today(I call it, no wonder America is going down the tubes)
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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2013, 07:51:40 AM »

Ugh, the part with the eye. I thought I was pretty desensitized to gory details, but man. Actually stopped and said, "Oh, eeeewwwwwww," out loud while listening to this at the gym. (That fight scene got me pretty motivated to keep running though! Blood pumping action sequences are awesome motivation.)

I was very much a fan of this one, that being said. The narration was spot on, and the tension in the story-telling had me completely wired. For being such a relatively small, focused story, it felt remarkably full, with interesting characters and a truly horrifying situation. Great choice.

Also, I know nothing about UFC or any of that stuff, but listening to our good host talk about it made me want to look into it more. Why was the last season so bad? I want to know!

Yeah the eye bit got me too:) The point were I pressed eject on TUF was the season coached by Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans. It was literally 'Throw 20 odd emotionally stunted violence experts in a house and shake well' and that's exactly the sort of nihilistic bullshit that turned me off reality TV in the first place. Also, that was pretty much the nadir of UFC skewing as hard as they could to the dudebro audience. It was UGLY.

I'm reliably informed the Sonnen/Jones coached season was a vast improvement. It needed to be. From what I've seen there's been major changes to how the show's filmed which helps a lot although I'm unclear about whether that's carried across to the Rousey/Tate season which is about to air. That one, I'm ambivalent about. They bring out the absolute worst in each other and there looks to be an air of throwing cats in a sack to this one. Hopefully that won't actually carry across.
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Kaa
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« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2013, 05:48:20 PM »

It's weird. I find my own reaction to this story fascinating. I was absolutely horrified and disgusted during the description of the dog fight. I hated those people and wanted them all to die in a most horrific way. Preferably torn apart by the dogs after being bitten by the snakes.

But when it came to the people fighting...I didn't have a problem with it.

You see, the author here did something that's verboten in fiction: he killed a dog. He killed a dog.

That just isn't done. Oh, sure pull out the guy's eye. Beat him to death, break his neck, let the dogs consume his flesh, and then mount his defleshed skull on a pike. But, dude, you killed a dog. Smiley

Horror in the truest sense for me. I kept waiting for the spec fic element and . . . there isn't one. There are almost certainly places in the American south (I'm from Alabama and live in Georgia) today where things like this could (I'm not saying they do, but they could) happen. And that makes it all the more creepy.
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I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

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