Fender Lizards

Joe R. Lansdale. Subterranean (subterraneanpress.com), $40 (232p) ISBN 978-1-59606-717-2
Edgar-winner Lansdale (The Bottoms), a master of the coming-of-age novel, takes on similar themes in this remarkable tale of a young woman on the precipice of adulthood. In the East Texas town of Piney Woods, 17-year-old Dorothy "Dot" Sherman serves burgers and fries on roller skates at the Dairy Bob, a "drive-in fast-food spot." Her father went out for a pack of cigarettes five years back and never returned, so it's now Dot, her younger brother, Frank, and their mom and grandma in a small single-wide trailer. Things get even more crowded when Dot's 23-year-old half-sister, Raylynn, and her two small children flee from Raylynn's abusive husband after Dot gives him a good whack with a two-by-four. Then out of the blue, a man named Elbert turns up, claiming to be Dot's dad's brother. Meanwhile, a traveling circus comes to town with a roller derby contest offering a $10,000 prize. Under the tutelage of Elbert, who turns out to be an excellent skater and a decent dude, Dot enlists Raylynn and her coworkers from the Dairy Bob to form a ragtag team called the Fender Lizards. Lansdale has always had a fondness for strong-willed female characters, and he lets Dot narrate the tale in her own colorful, infectious way. This novel should appeal to adults and teens alike, and Dot's hard work and personal responsibility will inspire and resonate with many readers. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/26/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
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