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Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

Paradise Sky

by Joe R. Lansdale

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9411192,363 (4.15)2



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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
“Paradise Sky” might be the perfect title for a different kind of novel. The title may be suggestive of the west, which is where, at sunset, we find paradise in the sky, but it hardly suggests an expansive western saga of the type we find in novels with titles like “Little Big Man,” “Wild Times” and “The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton.” Yet that is what Joe R. Lansdale gives us in his endlessly entertaining 2015 novel.

This is a highly fictionalized retelling of the life of Nat Love, or Deadwood Dick, although some would say Love's original telling of his story in his autobiography was itself highly fictionalized. Wherever the truth lies, Lansdale's version makes fine reading.

There were plenty of black cowboys in the Old West, but only Nate Love became a western legend. An expert horseman and marksman, he associated frequently with other, more prominent western legends. In the novel he is a close friend of Wild Bill Hickok. In his own account Love knew such men as Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid.

The son of freed slaves, Love is still in his early teens when a white man named Ruggert catches him looking at his wife's backside. From then on Ruggert proves willing to ruin his own life to end Love's, and the chase covers many years and a lot of western territory. A story that begins with Ruggert chasing Love ends with Love, by now a Judge Parker deputy, chasing the outlaw Ruggert.

In between there are shooting matches, gunfights, Indian battles, love stories and, always, witty storytelling.

Lansdale has written some terrific novels, and “Paradise Sky” ranks high among them. With a different title, more people might have read it. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Oct 10, 2018 |
My review written here at New York Journal of Books: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/paradise-sky ( )
  Eric_J._Guignard | Jul 26, 2018 |
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. ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 7, 2018 |
All reports from the publisher and reviewers calling this a “rollicking” fun novel are true. It’s (very) loosely based on the true story of American cowboy Nat Love, a.k.a. Deadwood Dick, an African-American cowboy and former slave (1854-1921).

It starts out, quite humorously, when he must go on the run to escape a lynch mob after he was caught eyeing the backside of a white man’s wife ("I will admit to a bit of true curiosity as to how that backside of hers was far more attractive than the front...."). What follows is masterful storytelling with wit, humor, action, and snappy dialogue as it follows Nat on his journeys with a colorful cast of characters, both good and bad. I won't go further into the plot, as it's best for the reader to discover it on their own.

A rip-roaring tall tale that provided me with hours of great entertainment….highly recommended! The only thing that kept it from a 5 star read was the end was a bit too drawn out. 400 pages was just a tad too long. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
I have been a fan of Joe Lansdale’s work for a number of years and still consider his 2012 “hillbilly noir” novel Edge of Dark Water to be one of my all-time favorites. I mention that one here because Paradise Sky reminds me of Edge of Dark Water in tone, its bigger-than-life characters, and a generally outlandish plot that keeps the reader on the edge of his seat for several hundred pages.

Paradise Sky serves as the fictional autobiography of Nat Love, an African-American cowboy who after winning most of the events in a Deadwood, Dakota Territory, rodeo was given the nickname Deadwood Dick by his friends (taken from the already popular dime novel character of the same name). The fictional Nat Love of Paradise Sky, in fact, becomes the hero of a series of dime novels all his own (but as a white cowboy and not as the black man he really is), but points out on Paradise Sky’s first page that he is here “to set the record straight.” It will be up to each reader to decide just how “straight” Nat then proceeds to tell his story. But what a story it is.

It all begins a few years after the Civil War when twenty-year-old Willie, while running a town errand for his ex-slave father, lets his eyes stray for precisely the wrong moment in time. Before he knows what’s hit him, Willie is running for his life, his father has been murdered, and the family home is burning to the ground. Thus begins the great adventure that will transform Willie from ex-slave to one of the most famous cowboys in the country.

Along the way, Willie will stumble upon the white man who becomes a second father to him; spend some time fighting Indians as a Buffalo soldier; twice meet the woman of his dreams; befriend Will Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Charlie Utter; become a U.S. Marshall working out of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, a railroad porter, and finally, a writer. But no life story runs in a straight line, and Willie’s is no exception.

There is, however, one constant in Willie’s story: the white man who one day imagines that he catches Willie staring at his wife’s generous rear-end as the woman strains to hang their wet laundry out to dry. When he first ran for his life, Willie believed that this insanely-jealous man would loose interest in him soon enough, and that he would be allowed to make a new life for himself as long as he never returned to his East Texas home. But that is not what happened – and by the time Willie figures out that the chase will end only with his death or that of his persecutor, it is almost impossible for him to protect himself from the madman.

Bottom Line: Paradise Sky, a bit reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove (the highest compliment I can pay it), is a rousing western adventure that from page-to-page is equally likely to have the reader laughing out loud as shedding a tear or two. This one is great fun. ( )
  SamSattler | Jan 30, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe R. Lansdaleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harms, LaurenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, BradNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316329371, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:53 -0400)

On the run after an infamous landowner murders his father, Willie becomes an expert marksman before turning Buffalo Soldier, befriending Wild Bill Hickok and earning the nickname "Deadwood Dick."

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