It's no secret that Joe R. Lansdale has been a favourite author of mine. Been a fan for nay on 25 years, and I suspect I'll keep on being a fan indefinitely.
As I mention on the Fast Fiction page, I took inspiration from Lansdale for writing smaller stories- not that he was the first, but he was the first to make it clear to me that it was a valid exercise that can still bring out some damn fine stories. You can read some of them in his Short Story Collection The King and Other Stories. Sold out at the publishers but still relatively inexpensive through Ebay and the like.
You can read in the synopsis of that collection on the Subterranean Press site another explanation for his 'warm-up' stories.
As someone who started writing in Poetry I found that I enjoyed parsing down a thought from multiple words, or sentences into a more concise version of itself, I called it 'The Economy of Words'. Nothing terribly original, sure- but I felt justified when I was introduced to Elmore Leonard, and then Robert B. Parker, and of course, Larry McMurtry. (I suppose I would be remiss if I left out Hemingway, but I was not as well versed in his style back in my youthful arrogance). Wonderful writers who don't flounce around in overly long descriptions, and flowery filler. Just the facts. Let the characters dictate the story, and let the story rest in the background.
As Ray Bradbury said, "Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
I have always been struck by the joy in the no-nonsense storytelling of Lansdale. His characters are solid human beings who make mistakes and grow through their journeys, and because of those moments his stories can take some strong Left Turns. You are always surprised in a Lansdale story, but never thrown-off by these 'But Then' moments.
I dare anyone to read one of my favourite short stories of his, Steppin' Out, Summer '68 and not tell me they believed these were real honest to God, kids messing around in a town with not much else to do, and then look around the room hoping no one knows you are laughing when the Alligator arrives.
Every week on Champion Joe's website they release a Free Mojo story for anyone to read. A perfect place to start learning about this man who I have learned so much from, as well. Much like I try to do with my daily short stories rolling through the gamut of styles, Lansdale writes in such varied genres that if you don't like one, you can always come back in a week and read another that might just be the best thing you ever read. When asked why he writes in so many literary niches, he replied somewhere, I don't just listen the the same music style so why should he write in just on.