Friday, June 29, 2018

The Rough Guide to Westerns

Paul Simpson offers this handy little reference guide to the genre. Not only does it contain a core list of 50 Western films, “The Canon”, but numerous side-bars and support chapters offer even more films and film books for exploration.
It may be small in size, but it packs a lot of informational punch.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hardcase for Hire

Clay Randall, pseudonym for the prolific and reliable Clifton Adams, delivers this 1964 novel starring his series protagonist Amos Flagg.

In this outing, we are asked to ponder what compels a remote ramshackle town in Indian Territory to build an ornate brick opera house in an environment where all live in tents or lean-tos.

It is a terrific opener and the ride to discover “why” is a bit of fun.

I prefer Adams when he writes under his own name as he seems to tackle heavier more serious themes, but this novel is a fine afternoon whiler.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Western Expression of the Week: "Tied Dog"

“Tied Dog” is a Caddo Indian term for a fighter who runs snarling toward a fight but stops before he gets there. Like a dog at the end of a rope.
Tied Dogs are all bark and no bite. All bluster with nothing behind it.
I wager we all know more than a few Tied Dogs. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Fourth Horseman

For a little while he will sit his horse feeling behind him all the lost yesterdays, seeing ahead of him all the empty tomorrows. He will realize then, that for him there is no yesterday and no tomorrow, but only what little is left of today. When he feels that, he will no longer suspect where he is. He will know.

He is at the end of the trail.”

That gorgeous bit of writing can be found on page one of Will Henry’s 1954 novel and there are other such expressive gems to be found within.

But…I’d be less than honest to say that this was a completely satisfying book for me. Where Henry, in this volume at least, shows a perceptive eye his characters felt a bit removed to me. I never quite felt sure why our protagonists or antagonists felt as passionately as they did about certain actions. They seemed to leap and cavort to satisfy plot points in between bouts of beautifully expressive writing.

With that said, it is a well-written novel that seems to walk the tightrope between by-the-numbers formulary tropes and learned observations.

A bit of a puzzler for me.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Comanche Vocabulary

“Yukanibar’u Yunumit’u!”

[Live unconcernedly, live well!]

About four years ago I stumbled across this book in a used-book store. It was written/compiled in the 1860s by Manuel Garcia Rejon and published in Mexico.

The price was $1.

I bought it and for no good reason decided to study the language. This led to other vocabularies, tribal resources and materials from the good folks in the Comanche Nation itself and I am still none too fluent, but I work at it each day.

I am grateful to this book for starting me down this road and any Western fiction fan or Western history aficionado might find some enjoyment in browsing the pages and wrapping the tongue and mind around some of the unusual pronunciations and concepts.

Quote of the Week

One day each must learn that, travel far as he likes, a man takes himself with him for better or for worse.”-Emerson Hough The Covered Wagon

Captain Alatriste

If you are stout of heart, you can be as dangerous as anyone who crosses your path. Or more.”

This 1997 novel by Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte is the first in a series of swashbucklers. While it never leaves the shores of Spain Western fans with a soft-spot for Zorro will find much to admire and enjoy here.

The derring-do, the élan, the swords flash fast and fierce. The intrigue and courageous bon mots in the midst of battle perfectly capture the feeling of Douglas Fairbanks, Tyrone Power, or Antonio Banderas as the Spanish don who fights for justice.

To be honest, Captain Alatriste is far better written than Johnston McCulley’s Zorro, but I am grateful to McCulley all the same, for if he had not written Zorro I’m not sure I would have picked up the exploits of Captain Alatriste.

I am glad I did.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Western Movie Wit & Wisdom

Now if you want only one thing too much, it’s likely to turn out a disappointment. Now the only healthy way to live, as I see it, is to learn to like all the little, everyday things.”-Gus McCrae played by Robert Duvall in Lonesome Dove (1989)

This fun volume from author Jim Kane is the more modest version of his huge compendium of Western Film Quotations [also reviewed on this blog.]

It may be a slimmer work, but it still clocks in at over 270 pages and makes for some fun browsing for Western film fans.

Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee by David Crockett

  This 1834 volume is a fine glimpse into the mindset of a legend.   What particularly strikes, this reader at least, is the well he goe...