Fistful of Reefer

Rated 4.57/5 based on 7 reviews
Fistful of Reefer is a dieselpunk, weird Western pulp featuring goats, guns and the camaraderie of outcasts.

Set along the Texas border during the waining years of the Mexican revolution, Fistful focuses on a group of unlikely heros and their unlikely foe as they stumble upon the fringes of a cabal bent on world domination.

Fistful lives between No country for Old Men and the Three Amigos. More
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Price: Free! USD

Words: 78,850
Language: English
ISBN: 9781465709738
About David Mark Brown

I wrote my first award-winning story in 4th Grade, titled “The human bean.” It wasn’t a play on words. Intending to write a profound piece about the human condition, it turns out I wrote a mutant story about a human/legume crossbreed. (Curse you, phonics!)

Now I write from the unique perspective of being born and raised on a cattle ranch in Texas while attending University in Missoula, Montana, thus spawning the world’s most self-proclaimed redneck granola. The years in between haven’t improved my spelling, but they’ve created a hell of a human bean.

My first book, Tainted Love: God, Sex and Relationships for the Not-so-pure-at-heart (written from all my soiled experiences) was published in 2002 by InterVarsity Press. After several years of retooling myself as a novelist (by drinking more and making less money) I reemerged in 2009 with the concept for Reeferpunk.

My lovely wife and I adopted our first child from Vietnam and recently produced a second boy through more traditional means. When not spinning genius into the aethernet I obsess over home wine making, earthen construction, gardening, social justice, ultimate Frisbee and the promotion of industrial hemp. Pull up a chair at www.thegreenporch.com.

Also by This Author

Reviews

Review by: Caroline Cryonic on March 06, 2012 :
(Cross-posted from the Adarna SF book blog)

Fistful of Reefer has a killer premise. It’s a Weird West/dieselpunk adventure set in Texas about a gadgeteer genius Mexican marijuana farmer who’s on the run from a bordering-on-psychotic prohibitionist Ranger. It’s the first novel in the Reeferpunk series.

The opening scene sucked me in. Ranchers confront Chancho about their dead goats, and one reaches for his pistol and growls, “The goats didn’t die from demon curse or fright, they died from colic–from too much marihuana.” There are shootouts, chili-bombs, and epic chase scenes involving bales of marijuana. What more could one ask for?

The flippant prose is delightful in its old school pulp style, and the action sequences are thrilling. I’d probably re-read some of the fight scenes because they’re that awesome.

For a book that promotes itself as a dieselpunk adventure, there isn’t much dieselpunk machinery, although Chancho makes a pretty epic marijuana harvester that runs on manure. I hope Chancho displays more of his gadgeteer genius skills in the future.

I liked that the protagonists were a Mexican man, indigenous woman, and Black Seminole in a Weird West. But unfortunately, there’s a lot of forced sentiment regarding protagonists, but your mileage may vary. If you like the melodrama and romanticism found in old movies like María Candelaria, then it won’t bother you, but I found it to be dated and uncomfortably bridging on noble savage tropes with its cultural baggage (which requires taking its portrayals of indigeneity with a truckload of salt).

Characterization isn’t Fistful of Reefer‘s strong suit. Everyone can be summed up in two traits. They’re still charming in that pulp fiction way, but I wanted more depth in the protagonists. I still really like that they are the heroes in a Weird West, but I wish they were more often defined by their personality, with their background informing their point of view, rather than being almost nothing more than their background. The story should make it clear that Chancho is a loveable rogue because he’s Chancho, and not because he’s Mexican; Nena is a brave woman because she’s Nena, not because she’s of the Kickapoo people; and Muddy is loyal and dependable because he’s Muddy, not because he’s Black Semiole.

Pages of infodumping about the protagonists’ histories take away the story’s momentum. Along the same lines, there’s a lot of telling instead of showing with regards to their character traits. There’s a disconnect between what their traits are supposed to be, versus what they are actually doing in the story. I can’t say I’m impressed by the protagonists, but in contrast, the villain Ranger McCutchen is an excellent character. His motivations and history are revealed more naturally in smaller segments, and his actions speak for themselves. The narration didn’t have to tell me explicitly that he’s creepy and insane. He just is. This would be a much stronger book if the protagonists’ character traits were laid out in a similar manner.

Chancho’s aspirations grow larger towards the end of the book, instead of merely trying to outrun the ranger, he starts having loftier dreams of liberating the American people. Unfortunately, I was confused as to what this exactly meant. Does liberating the people mean liberating them from prohibition? Is it strictly about marijuana or is it more than that? Even though it’s not clear what Chancho stands for, people turn up in droves to support him, because the narration claims that he’s a Good Guy and stands for Good Things. So at the end of the book, I was left confused and unfulfilled.

Even though I have a number of criticisms with Fistful of Reefer, I commend the author for creating a fun and unique world, and I think that the series has promise.

Note: A free review copy was provided by the author.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Greyhart Press on Dec. 09, 2011 :
I picked up this book at launch because I’d already read and enjoyed the author’s short fiction. From the title, I thought this might be a stoner’s ode to weed. I wasn’t too keen on that, but a good author can make any subject matter read well, so I took a chance.

I’m so glad I did. Marihuana is a key McGuffin in the book, but not in a way you’d guess. I guess I’d classify it as an adventure story.

The title sounds like the film Fistful of Dollars, doesn’t it? Well, it is reminiscent of spaghetti westerns, but actually, it reminded me more of the Good the Bad and the Ugly because that was a film with more movement, almost an episodic feel. Remember that scene where main characters ride into the middle of the Civil War. Well Fistful of Reefer was a bit like that: the characters keep on moving and keep stumbling on twists and turns and new characters. The Reefer plot is much more carefully threaded together, though.

I’d rather not reveal too much of the plot or style because it’s a delight to discover for yourself. I’ll mention Texas Rangers, wagons, tractors, ranches, steam trains, shootouts, and politicians. It’s set in the Texas-Mexico border in a version of the early twentieth century that isn’t quite the same as ours.

The rest is up to you find out.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Anna Stone on July 26, 2011 :
This is a fun read.  It's completely preposterous so just suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride.  Exploding chili powder boots, gourd bombs, and bazooka toting sheriffs are just a few of the strange things you'll encounter in these pages.  It made me laugh. It made me cry. You'll find yourself cheering on a marijuana toting Mexican revolutionary and booing a Texas Ranger.  I can't wait to see what trouble Chancho gets into next!  Viva la revolucion!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Shawn Yates on July 26, 2011 :
Twists and turns abound in this quirky adventure set along the Mexican border. Marijuana is the key to Chancho's redemption, but one seriously pissed off Texas Ranger, ghosts from the past, and a mess of goats stand in his way.

Don't let the title fool you. This is NOT a stoner story. A couple of things wrap up perhaps a little too neatly, but that's hardly a fatal flaw. Chancho's relationship with his friends is deftly handled and the Crazy Mexican is perfectly endearing on his own. A solid, fun read.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Gavin Wilson on July 22, 2011 :
A wonderfully wierdly steampunk style western. Full of humour, action, thrills and spills, David takes you on a rollercoaster ride through a wonderfully described world.
A story with strong characters, great dialogue and an ever moving storyline, this is well worth a read.
Held me captivated.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Theresa Mereszczak on July 21, 2011 :
This book was such a fun read. I never knew what was going to be around the next bend or on the next page (or screen since its an eread)... There were times where I found myself laughing out loud and others where I was sheepishly wiping away a tear. David Brown has opened up a new genre in fiction for me and I can't wait for him to write the next book. What happens next??????
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Seth Neal on July 17, 2011 :
An unexpected surprise! I sort of thought this was going to be some sort of stoner story; but it was actually a very fun read. The only ones getting stoned were the goats! Haha. I definitely recommend it if you are into weird westerns or even dieselpunk / pulp type of stories. I also checked out his short stories which were good too.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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