Jane Goes North – Joe R. Lansdale

Jane has lost her job at the laundry due to a ketchup package she forgot to remove from an expensive item, and her prospects look dim. To top off matters, her younger sister, who lives up north, and who Jane has problems with, is getting married and has mailed her an invitation that Jane believes was sent due to her sister not expecting her to be able to come.

A long bout of sibling rivalry makes Jane all the more determined to go, even if her car has gone to hell. To make the journey, Jane forms an uncomfortable alliance with a grumpy, one-eyed, weight-lifting lady named Henry, who may or may not abandon her along the way, and has plans to see a doctor Henry claims can renew her sight. Add past memories of a sexual dalliance with a drunk preacher in the back lot of the church across from her house, an infamous naked run along a creek bank, failed marriages, including an ex-husband that has a bit of goat ardor, and with a shoe full of money, Jane and Henry hit the road….

Autobuy author is a term I had never heard before joining the Bookstagram community. It was something I obviously knew about, intuitively. Insomuch as there have always been a handful of authors where I would never hesitate to buy any of their books. This is definitely a Book Collector Problem, as my list of autobuy authors continues to grow. It’s especially challenging when it comes to two authors in particular: Seanan McGuire & Joe R. Lansdale.

Not only do both authors have an extensive back catalogue of books to buy, but they are both frequently published by Subterranean Press. I’m hit or miss with some of the more limited edition Subterranean Press releases…like, occasionally I will really adore the artwork for a cover, but it’s for a book I already have and I’m not looking to collect multiple editions of (something I try to be cautious about in general). Sometimes it’s a book I really want to read, but the cover art doesn’t appeal to me nearly enough to justify the cost. I just have some complicated feelings overall, mostly circling back to the cost (I mean, their novellas are frequently $40, which is a lot for a book that’s less than 200 pages). That said, when you actually have one of their books in your hand, the quality of the thing is…incredible. The binding, the quality of the pages, it’s all completely gorgeous.

Anyway, that nonsensical preamble aside, if there’s a brand new Lansdale book coming from Subterranean Press, I am helpless to resist. Such was the case with Jane Goes North, a delightfully bonkers story that only the Champion Mojo Storyteller could write.

This is a road-trip-through-hell kind of novel, with the titular Jane catching a ride with her new friend Henry. Jane’s been invited to one of her sister’s wedding “up north,” and Henry has an appointment of her own to keep. So they join forces to make the trip more affordable & enjoyable. They’re both a bit down on their luck, Jane, in particular. She knows she’s not expected at the wedding, all of her sisters having cruelly written her off as the unsuccessful one. So she’s making this trip basically to spite them.

From there, it’s one calamity after another. This is Lansdale at his funniest & crudest, as Jane and Henry navigate their way out of Texas and up the east coast, into a world that doesn’t feel entirely their own, and not at all welcoming.

I’m a pretty big believer that every Joe R. Lansdale book is incredible in one way or another, and Jane Goes North was no exception. This is a fun, madcap, screwball kind of book…so, not something that packs the emotional punch of say, The Bottoms or Paradise Sky, but certainly a ton of fun to read. And Jane and Henry are great, no-bullshit characters, for sure!

Another awesome Lansdale book for the collection!!

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