Friday, December 10, 2021

Renegade Westerns by Kevin Grant & Clark Hodgkiss


The full title of this gorgeous volume is Renegade Westerns: Movies That Shot Down Frontier Myths.

The volume is an intelligent guide to “adult” westerns that sought to break from standard fare, starting with a detailed look at 1943’s The Ox-Bow Incident and ending with 2017’s Hostiles.

The authors delve into 100 films over decades, many of which are favorites of this author so the high regard should be no surprise.

It also has two Appendixes of Additional Films well worth a delve:

Shadow West: Noir Westerns & Gunning for Peggy Castle: Female Fronted Westerns.

A superlative resource for those who prefer a bit of grit in their Westerns.

Story Spotlight: “First Kill” by Will C. Brown


Louise, when a man gets thrown off a horse he’s breaking, the first thing he ought to do is get up and get back on and ride that horse. It’s not the horse he’s got to master—it’s his own opinion of himself. The horse that bucked him, it just represents something. He’s got to do it then and there, not the next day or the next week. A man’s got to get on top of his trouble, or it’ll get on top of him.”

Oh, this 1959 honey from Mr. Brown stacks so much good work in its brief page-count. He inverts the romanticism of the gunfight, and gets the ear-ringing and remorseful trembling feelings right.

If I had a complaint, and I don’t, it’s that I don’t have enough of Mr. Brown on my shelf.

Solid fare for readers who enjoy a moral compass in their leisure reading.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Rio Grande Death Ride by Terrell L. Bowers


“You have come to die?"

"No. I've come to kill a sleazy snake, a yellow rat that hasn't got one grain of sand in his craw. You wanted me-well, you sniveling butcher, here I am!"

I was led to this by a recommendation from a Good Man who as a source for good reads fits me well 90% of the time, well, this is one of those 10%ers.

It is a serviceable if formulaic read, a less-skilled “Josey Wales” and ragtag crew tale. My tolerance for such things can be higher but……and this may just be me, but our protagonist displays a casual violence to women that is seemingly portrayed as admirable that I find hard to stomach or justify with “heroic.”

Readers of this blog know that my taste can lean to well-limned violence and this negative reaction is less about the violence and more the admiration of “This is how you court a lady, a little slap here and there and call her brat.”

If the level of the opening prose works for you and this reader’s qualms with “Women love to be slapped” does not worry you, well, you may find something here, but honestly, there is simply better fare up and down the line.

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...