Sunday, December 13, 2020

Six dark stories with hopeful endings

Les Edgerton is the author of more than twenty books including the newly released Hard Times, as well as numerous short stories and screenplays.

At CrimeReads he tagged six favorite dark stories with hopeful endings, including:
Joe Lansdale’s brilliant novel, Paradise Sky, is, in my opinion, the best of all his novels and that’s saying something. It fits the bill for my list here for a more traditional reason than some of the others. It’s a dark, dark novel in terms of what happens to the protagonist, Nat Love, a Black man who’s plagued like a modern-day Job with one downfall after another being sent his way by an uncaring or maybe just an indifferent God. Just >about every trial he suffers being directly or indirectly at the hand of his childhood nemesis, Mr. Ruggert, who sets out to kill him after murdering Nat’s father.

After first running from Ruggert as a boy, Nat keeps growing and develops fighting skills and eventually he becomes the pursuer. Actually, each man pursues the other across the vast West, each fueled with a white-hot hatred for the other. Just before their final showdown, the father of the girl he’s fallen in love with, finally gets through to Nat, convincing him that the vengeance he’s being fueled by will be the thing that destroys him, even if he were to kill the other man. In the end, he finds his enemy and has the opportunity to kill him (win), but he passes it up and takes him back to town to face the hangman and justice (loss). It’s dark until the very end and no reader would have blamed him for killing the evil Ruggert, but hope for him as a man illuminates his final choice when he chooses justice over revenge.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue