Friday, October 30, 2020

The Hard Homesteader by Clayton Fox


“There is always country like that,” he said. “The old-timers come in and grab the best land. They fight the Indians and the country until they get the country the way they want it. Then they try to keep it from changing. Just as the Indians tried to keep it from changing. Change is bound to come, but it has to be fought over.”

My first experience with this author but it won’t be my last.

It is, on one hand, a formulaic tale of Stranger in town butting heads with the powers that be, but on the other hand, there are many less than formulaic choices made by the characters that keep one interested.

The people are rich and full-blooded and Fox not allowing them to follow an ABC mode of action makes for a richer than standard reading experience.

It is no classic, but it is also not dispensable fare.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Adventurers by Ernest Haycox


A rock-solid later work from a master of the genre.

Haycox’s later novels mark a break with the formulaic tales and settings of the West and see the author exploring less than usual terrain, both geographical and internally. Here we have shipwrecks, logging in the Pacific Northwest, the economics and dynamics of running a sawmill, but…

Where many authors allow such details to be an info dump where they use their research as proof of authenticity, Haycox always places character first.

To my mind he is one of THE top male western authors when it comes to limning female character.

A gorgeous addition to the man’s legacy.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The White Rhino Hotel by Bartle Bull


Your boots carry fresh red dust. Your foolish English trousers are torn. From the British only one thing I have learned: always in Africa to wear shorts. All the rest they have learned from me. In shorts, the thorns do not stop you, and there is less noise when you stalk. Your skin is not important. It will mend itself.”

Not strictly a Western, but most definitely a novel of the Frontier, in this case The African Frontier.

The novel is first in a trilogy set in East Africa spanning from the end of the First World war into the Second Global conflict.

The reader can not help but notice the numerous parallels with novels of the American Westward expansion, the encounters with wildlife, the hazards and blessings of indigenous people’s interactions, the “good men” and the outlaw.

The novel may have a stiff-upper lip tone in places but the intimate knowledge of the land and people as well as the sweep of story, in turns majestic in others outright kinky, the reader is easily swept along with the epic.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel by Quentin Tarantino

  It was sometime around fifteen years later that the reputation of a deadly half white/half Mexican gunfighter named Johnny Madrid reached ...