When you say “weird Western”, we generally think of Joe Lansdale, Jonah Hex, or maybe a Johnny Depp box-office disaster. But while “weird” comes in all kinds of flavors, from horror and occult to sci-fi- and fantasy, “Western” somehow always paints the same mental picture: an Arizona aesthetic as dry and stark as the backdrop of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.
Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show aims to change that. In Eric Fischl’s debut novel, a rainy afternoon in 1878 Oregon sets the stage for a snake-oil salesman whose life behind the show-curtains is becoming ever more horrifying, thanks to the sinister contents of the patent-medicine bottles he’s forced to dispense to the desperate and the gullible. The setting is marvelously rendered right from the first page: