Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Posse from Poison Creek by Lewis B. Patten


Dolan was silent a moment before he spoke. He sensed that he was on uncertain ground, and he wanted what he said to be just right. “I won’t change. I guess I don’t know how to convince you—not with words. But I won’t change.”


She didn’t answer him. But the silence was companionable, and he knew that she had accepted his words at face value. At least for now.


This brief novel by the solid Patten, while saddled with a formulaic name, is a bit more than a mere action tale of “Go get ‘em and bring ‘em back.”


It is that action tale, but it is more than that—it reads as a posse-procedural where we are privy to the interior considerations of Sheriff Webb Dolan and his weighing this or that contingency. He is plagued with a form of on-the-trail bureaucracy and the varying logistical planning of a long haul not often given voice in formulaic fiction.


These mature considerations make this tale a cut above. A worthy afternoon whiler.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

“When the Children Cry” for Meat by Noel M. Loomis


Ikamosa drew a sudden deep breath. “I was raised a Kiowa,” he said, “but I have never lost the Comanche’s love of coming and going as he wishes.”


Mr. Loomis uses his deep knowledge of Indian ways to construct another tale akin to his award-winning effort “Grandfather Out of the Past.” [Also covered in this blog.]

This one follows a band of Kiowa led by their half-Comanche chief during a long lean time. 


Steeped in tribal politics and wise to Indian ways, it has this aspect of verisimilitude going for it, but I found it less successful than “Grandfather Out of the Past” as this one seems a little too respectful, a little too “Majestic Noble Savage” heavy to feel realistically immersive.


Undoubtedly a gifted taleteller, I merely express a preference for the other.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

“Red Sand” by Will C. Brown


Red sand whipped men’s faces and clogged their eyes and nostrils. The wind, the constant, yammering wind, battered the walls of lonely nester houses, and pried into every crevice to lay its gritty hand. And if a man was weak, not made for it, the red grit could grind itself into his reason, as well as into his clothes, his teeth, and his bed.


Brown was a force in the genre in the 50’s and 60’s and the prose here shows good atmosphere in the Caprock Country. A tale of redemption with the discovery of love thrown in. 


I’ll admit, while not a bad tale, it seems a bit too formulaic to merit a slot as one of the 100 Best Western Short-Stories. 


I look forward to sampling more of Mr. Brown. As I said, well written just a little bit predictable.

Gentle Annie by MacKinlay Kantor

When we reached the place where Cotton had left his horse and buggy, we had a few moments’ conversation. The Goss brothers spoke with rar...