The unmistakable accent of the Piney Woods of East Texas rolls from the pages of Fender Lizards, Joe R. Lansdale’s tale of the life and love and work of one Dot Sherman, who delivers on her promise that her story is “the real thing from beginning to end.”
Dot waitresses on roller skates at the Dairy Bob, doesn’t care for smoking at least partly on account of her dad having never returned from a cigarette run, and carries on the family tradition of philosophizing. Life hasn’t done her any favors in her seventeen years so far. But if there was ever a heroine built for turning things upside down and seeing what shakes out, it’s Dot. Determined to find out who she is and why she’s the way she is, an opportunity presents itself when her heretofore-unknown uncle suddenly moves his camper into the front yard.
As in his classic novels The Bottoms and The Magic Wagon, multiple-award-winning Lansdale instills place with character and character with place. Here is an overlooked world and a cast of real folks that prove unforgettable, all rendered in one of American fiction’s most authentic voices.
Fender Lizards is the story of how Dot came to be in the roller derby.
Reading about roller derby is like reading about quidditch in Harry Potter or stopping in the middle of Twilight for a long game of baseball. It's not an exciting time. (Is it taboo to make references to Twilight? Sorry.) Some of you will know what I mean.
I'm from Southeast Texas so Lansdale automatically puts me at home. I can hear and feel East Texas in his writing. This is a big plus for me.
I loved the characters in Fender Lizards. Dot was definitely the heart of the story. Fender Lizards was much more about Dot and her family than it was about her joining the roller derby, but that aspect bored me so I'm harping on it.
Overall, Fender Lizards was a decent read. I didn't love it. I felt like I wanted more to be happening. It was easy to put down, and it took longer than it should have for me to finish it. I didn't dislike it, either, though. It reinforced the fact that I need to be reading a lot more Lansdale outside of my Hap and Leonard binges.
5/10: Decent Read