First published back in June of 1984, Richard Laymon’s short story ‘Shootout At Joe’s’ was released as a stand-alone story for the ‘Fastback’ series.  The Fastback series were designed to encourage reluctant-readers to take up reading, keeping the stories short, sharp and thrilling.

DLS Synopsis:
The day Elsie Thompson came into Joe’s Bar & Grill looking for Joseph James Lowry was one of those days that just wasn’t going to go all that well.  Since Joe had retired from his work at the diner a good three years back, twenty-one-year-old Wes had been keeping Joe’s going.  And when Elsie came into the diner located at the far end of Windville, it was unsurprising that Joe wasn’t around right then.  In fact, it was just Wes and a local named Lester Keyhoe in there at the time.  But Elsie was happy to wait.  After all, she had waited over thirty years for Joe, and now with a gun in her hand, she planned to finally pay Joe back for walking out on her all those years ago…  

DLS Review:
Laymon sets out with an instantly recognisable out-and-back setting for the short little tale.  Written from the perspective of Wes, the storyline quickly sets down the handful of characters before the grey-haired Elsie arrives on the scene to reap her final vengeance on the man she supposedly loved.  Being a Fastback, the dialogue is brief and snappy, with the plot established in a matter of minutes, and then it’s in for the kill with the final (somewhat predictable) twist ending.  Okay, so there’s not all that much in the tale, but its colourful, fast, entertaining and gets straight to the point with an easy-to-read burst of tongue-in-cheek action.  It’s Quentin Tarantino on a more light-hearted note.  And it certainly works.

The Fastback runs for a total of 27 pages (which are just 4” x 5.5” with an average word count of around 100 words per page).

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