Paradise Sky

Paradise SkyParadise Sky by Joe Lansdale
Genres: Western
Published by Mulholland Books on June 16, 2015
Pages: 416

 

It started as a glance in the wrong direction. But for a black man in post civil war Texas, that benign act could have deadly consequences. For Willie, aka Nat Love aka Deadwood Dick, it leads to years of running from vigilante justice. After surviving the first few hours of a horrifying flight from his home, Willie encounters, Tate Loving who eventually becomes his mentor. During his time with Tate, Willie learns invaluable skills, not the lease of which is marksmanship. It is this talent that will carry him through the army and eventually to the Black Hills of South Dakota to the small town of Deadwood where he earns his reputation and nickname as a gunman. But throughout his journeys, he is dogged by his past and the man who will not stop until he sees Nat dead. Written from a first person perspective and with a strong western storytelling voice, Paradise Sky falls into a bit of a pattern, but still an entertaining read.

This is my first book by Joe Lansdale, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Add to that, I don’t read many westerns, and I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy Paradise Sky. But I found the idea of an African American cowboy intriguing and I was in the mood for something different. So, I decided to give it a try.

The voice for the story is excellent; I loved the southern, plus western feel.

For the most part I enjoyed this book. The voice for the story is excellent; I loved the southern, plus western feel. It is very easy to fall into the rhythm and mood of the story. The settings for each portion of the novel is good as well, making it easy for the reader to get a nice feel for the time and situations Nat faces. However, I struggled with the story’s structure. There is a pattern to this book, which decreases suspense as well as discourages the reader from investing in most characters.

There is a pattern to this book, which decreases suspense as well as discourages the reader from investing in most characters.

As previously mentioned, I don’t read a lot of westerns nor am I particularly knowledgeable about the old west. From a purely uneducated perspective, the settings felt very authentic and the history appears to be sound. I certainly did not feel the need to stretch my imagination or suspend disbelief.

I particularly appreciate the way in which Joe works the difficulties facing former slaves and the black population as a whole into Nat’s personal growth. One of my favorite parts of Paradise Sky is watching Nat’s character progress from someone afraid to look ‘wrong’ at a white man to someone confident in himself and his worth and value as a person.

This is not the book for readers uncomfortable with mature language and/or content.

This book is set during a rough time and as such, it is rather coarse. This is not the book for readers uncomfortable with mature language and/or content. However, given the time period and the story being told, the content is within reason.

Overall I enjoyed Paradise Sky. It’s an entertaining book with a storyline I could easily see made into a movie. Nat is certainly a likable character and the events that happen during his adventures are fun to follow. Though this is not listed as book one in a series, the door is definitely left open for subsequent stories. For readers looking for a fun western with an unconventional hero, Paradise Sky is a good choice.

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