Friday, December 11, 2020

The Wanderer’s Havamal by Jackson Crawford

 


People’s approval ain’t nothin’ you need.

Half the time it ain’t true.

Just be sure you think you’re right;

and that you’re comfortable in your own skin;

you’re all you can count on.

Well, here we have a gorgeous change of pace. Nordic scholar, Jackson Crawford, provides a bracing translation of the Old Norse poem, The Havamal.

He has titled his translation, “The Wanderer’s Havamal” and on each facing page of the English translation we can view the Old Norse text directly from the Codex Regius manuscript.

For those not in the know, The Havamal, is a sort of short “Code of Conduct” for Vikings. It is idiosyncratic in places but still has a vast amount of common-sense wisdom to convey.

I have read many an Old Saga in my time, but I include this one here as Mr. Crawford concludes with another iteration of The Havamal that he has limned in rangehand colloquial English in honor of his plain-spoken grandfather, June Crawford.

This translation is titled The Cowboy Havamal and reads as if drawled from the lips of The Duke himself.

A short read, a fine read, and, what’s more, possibly a vitally important read.

Friday, December 4, 2020

What Western Do I Read Next by Wayne Barton

 


Actually the full title reads: What Western Do I Read Next-A Reader’s Guide to Recent Western Fiction.

This large volume [my copy is 545 pages] is less a book of reviews than a “If you liked this book or that author here are five more titles you may enjoy.”

The book also provides appendices that break novels down according to theme.

·         Time Period Index

·         Geographic Index

·         Story Type Index

·         Character Name Index

·         Character Description Index

·         Author Index

·         Title Index

So, if you ever say to yourself, “I’d love to read a novel set in 1830’s East Texas about a main character who happens to be a doctor” now you have a resource to lead you aright.

If there is a weakness to the volume [and it is no weakness as the range of novels covered is described in the title] it is this very narrow range itself.

The chosen volume skews hard to novels published in the late70s to early 90s period.

While useful for this time period it leaves one wishing there was a second volume that encompassed the prolific decades prior.

Beyond that advertised quibble it is a mighty useful browsing reference for hardcore fans of the genre.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Bravados by Frank O’ Rourke

 


Evening sunset was a magic time when peace grew actual shape and substance, as sweet as sugar to the sense. Only in the courthouse, the bastion of blindfolded justice on the plaza, was the sense of peace destroyed.

Another of O’Rourke’s spare, hard-edged but downright poetic efforts.

A formula tale of three desperadoes and the woman they take as hostage on one side.

On the other, a determined man and a strong-willed woman give pursuit.

Familiar in many regards but rendered a cut above by the talented author.

It is a good read, but I admit I am always comparing O’Rourke to himself. His novel, The Last Chance [also reviewed in this blog] is easily one of my favorite Western novels.

This work is no Last Chance, but it’s a fine afternoon all the same.

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 ...