Friday, July 29, 2022

Finding Nevada by Frank Roderus


Now he thought that the position in the bank was a nice position for a man to have. He enjoyed the work and he enjoyed the people, and if the officers of the bank did not really understand that Harrison’s popularity with the patrons came not from his efficiency but from his genuine liking for them, well, that was the bank’s problem. Harrison did not truly care all that greatly how they perceived him. The fact was that he thoroughly enjoyed what he was doing.

This novel is a fine example of what I can enjoy about the genre—despite the pictured gunfight on the cover [my cover, at least], there is not a gunfight to be found within.

It is a novel of amiable, loping charm. Most genres exist for the mere sake of the plot itself no matter how skillful people maybe limned along the way. A crime novel with no crime is no crime novel. A mystery with nothing to solve is no mystery. A horror with no shudder is, well…

The Western can be rife with gunfights [and I’ve enjoyed many of that variety.] It can also be one of seeming slightly plotted nothingness and yet still survive because of the caliber of the people we spend time with.

This novel is no rafter-shaker but I am mighty refreshed by having spent a few hours in such amiable unargumentative company.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Leaving Cheyenne by Bill Brooks


“I counted the graves of my friends and it was like ticking off time, each one representing a memory, a good time, a shared glass of liquor, a laugh, a sense of indescribable loss.”

The above is a gorgeous representation of what one finds between these covers. It is part of the Quint McCannon series, and I’ll be honest, series usually rate low for me as the very fact that something is a series means that absolute jeopardy is not on the table. The author must continue the character to maintain the income. That foregone conclusion often leads me to never fully involve.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many fine reads within series tales; I simply point out that we all kinda, sorta know the end before we start.

With all that said, this novel has the heft and beauty of a single piece of literature. Mr. Brooks peppers the tale in the fashion of the late Mr. McMurtry where we come across actual historical personages, which allows McCannon/Brooks to proffer his judgment of the figure in question.

A gorgeous tale I enjoyed thoroughly save for the foregone conclusion of “All will be right in the end” before I even left the first page.

I shall return to Mr. Brooks and Mr. McCannon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Branded West, Edited by Don Ward


Here we have a 1955 anthology sanctioned by the Western Writers of America.

We are treated to 14 solid tales from the pens of men as able as Elmore Leonard, Stephen Payne, Kenneth Fowler and other practitioners from the early ‘50s.

The volume opens with “The Builder of Murderer’s Bar” by Todhunter Ballard, a story that was selected as one of the 100 Best Western Stories of all time by Jon Lewis.

Usually I concur with Mr. Lewis’ opinion, but I’ll split here—it struck me slight. Likely my error and not Mr. Ballard or Mr. Lewis.

The remainder of the fare is solid, with one easily taking high honors to my taste, that tale being “The Marshal and the Mob” by Will C. Brown—stick to your ribs stuff.

While not essential, I am a sucker for anthologies as it gives one a chance to sample bite-size appetizers of many authors to see if you’d like to delve deeper into their longer works.

A Frontier Phrase Worth Resurrecting: “He Bubbles Pure"

  [Excerpted from our book The Frontier Stoic: Life Lessons from Those Who Lived a Life.] “ He bubbles pure .” ·         Said of a man w...