Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wearing the Morning Star


Not enough
Never enough of her.
That one dancing there dancing
Never enough

Of the smell of her body
Wafting
To me
Never enough
I cannot live without her breath.”


Here’s something a little different, an anthology of Native American Song Poems edited by Brian Swann.  Mr. Swann has culled through the anthropological record to provide this mix of staggering beauty, unadulterated humanity [including the finest love-poem I’ve ever read], and open-faced bawdiness.

Within you will find women singing of vaginas as large as canoes with clitorises as large as men-and these are compliments. The anthropologist’s notes showed that these were sung by old and young women alike with no sense of it being indecent or untoward—just as we sing about the “Old Rugged Cross” with a dying man on it and it does not strike us as grisly.

I will admit there are several in here that have such an otherworldly reference system I don’t know what to make of them [yet], but overall this is a gorgeous glimpse into an alternate perception of the world around us.

A glimpse that if studied assiduously may provide a deeper and wider view than the one we currently enjoy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hardcase for Hire


A short novel from 1963, Clay Randall was a penname for the prolific Clifton Adams, who wrote Westerns under his own name as well.

What we have here is a story of, why would a shantytown in the middle of Indian territory occupied by nothing but riff-raff go out of their way to build an ornate opera house.

Full of human observations and odd characters. Not a vital read as this genre is chockful of intriguing reads, but reminds me again why I keep returning to this literary area.

Solid if not essential.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Hardest Ride


2 lbs dried pinto beans

 1/2-lb pork belly or 2 or 3 smoked ham hocks

 1/2-lb ham—diced

1/2-cup chorizo (Mexican sausage)—casing removed and crumbled

6 slices fried bacon—chopped or crumbled

5 roma tomatoes or 3 large slicing tomatoes—chopped

1 medium onion—chopped (delete or less if desired)

1/2-cup cilantro— finely chopped

4 cloves garlic—whole

6 jalapeƱo peppers—finely sliced (serrano peppers optional—hotter)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 small green pepper—chopped (optional)

1 tomatillo (Mexican husk tomato)—chopped (optional)

Salt to taste (not much)  

And some folks are happy with a can of generic brand pork ’n’ beans, especially sad when you consider that back in Bud’s time, canned pork and beans were actually chock full of pork, not today’s single half-inch cube.

This award-winning Western from Gordon Rottman has heart. We follow a young cowboy and the growing relationship between himself and a mute Mexican girl.

The novel has its gritty side as well, when a cross-the-border kidnapping requires much of both protagonists. While not a classic, it is a solid read with the beating heart of the couple keeping it from standard genre fare.

The book makes much ado about the young lady’s cooking prowess, and the author is good enough to offer a recipe in the afterword. Give both the book and the beans a try, well worth your time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Lonesome Trail & Other Stories


Come early and stay late, and bring your appetites along. Fare-you-well, my brothers!”

A 1909 story collection from B.M. Bower. Bower always had a way with the amiable folksy approach to the cowboy story which she utilizes here, but I must admit where some older works wear their charms well, this one a little less so.

A bit too ambling to warrant a rush to read this one.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Indian Scout Talks


Have you ever wondered why most great men were born in humble homes and passed their early youth in the open country? There a boy is accustomed to see the sun rise and set every day; there rocks and trees are personal friends, and his geography is born with him, for he carries a map of the region in his head. In civilization there are many deaf ears and blind eyes. Because the average boy in the town has been deprived of close contact and intimacy with nature, what he has learned from books he soon forgets, or is unable to apply. All learning is a dead language to him who gets it at second hand.”

Another fine volume from Charles Eastman [his The Soul of the Indian was reviewed on this blog.] It takes the form of a series of talks or lessons to young readers, but this reader long past Boy Scout years still found much wisdom within.

A fine read for both American Indian enthusiasts and scout-crafters culling for ideas.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Son


They could not seem to grasp that what mattered was what you did. Not what you said or thought about.”

A big sprawling novel by Phillip Meyer that is the basis for the AMC series.

Meyer has literary chops. No doubt about it.

Meyer has authenticity—the man spent time learning to bow-hunt, he has eaten raw buffalo liver on the plains and other such “get inside the skin” of the character tactics to bring realness to the novel.

The authenticity and the literary prowess are never in question.

With that said, while I enjoyed this book a good deal, I never quite felt that total immersion as in other sprawling Western sagas. Now, this may be a fault of this particular reader for often when a book doesn’t quite connect it can be that the story does not do what we the reader wants it to do; in those cases it is wise to sit back, and leave the unwritten book in our heads out of the equation and enjoy what is on the actual page.

I enjoyed The Son immensely, but it feels as if it is reaching for classic, and if I value it on that scale it falls a wee bit short.

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