Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Destry Rides Again

“L’il ol’ town, you don’t amount to much,” said Harry Destry. “You never done nothin’ an’ you ain’t gunna come to no good. Doggone me if you ain’t pretty much like me!”

That quote sums up my feelings about this book.

This 1930 novel by the mighty prolific Max Brand pops up on many a Westerns“Best of” list but for the life of me I don’t know why.

I try to steer away from negative reviews, I’d rather be a finger pointing to the good stuff [which there is much] and stay quiet about the less than ideal.  But with the presence of this novel on the aforementioned lists, it seems a counterpoint might be in order to save the time of those with tastes similar to what you find on this blog.

First, the novel bears little relationship to the charming film of the same name. The film deserves a place on “Best of” lists, not so the source material.

The above quote is the opening line of the novel and if you are a fan of dialect and colloquialism, then you may find much here to keep you turning the page. I have a low tolerance for such speech particularly if it rings inauthentic.

Wister’s use of such dialect in The Virginian does not rankle me as does this confabulation.

I will confess this was my first exposure to Max Brand, and perhaps his other work is exemplary, but this sort of writing and plotting is just the sort of thing I think Western nay-sayers have in mind when they take a condescending look at the genre. If this novel were my only exposure, I would take a pass on the Western.

Apologies to Brand fans everywhere, assume I have poor taste. But to call it like I see it, this brief novel was a chore to get through, genre-best or not.

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