Thursday, January 5, 2023

“On the Divide” by Willa Cather


So instead of becoming a friend and a neighbor to the men who settled about him, Canute become a mystery and a terror.

This tale penned in 1896 was selected as one of the 100 Best Western Short Stories by the fine editor, Jon E. Lewis.

I must say I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Lewis on this one.

Truthful, heartfelt, and written with a feel for the loneliness of settlement that the author herself had firsthand experience with.

On the money as few mere plot driven tales can ever be.

Topnotch humanity.

Monday, January 2, 2023

The Night McLennan Died by Marshall Grover


“I never saw a shooter so accurate with a handgun as Big Jim Rand.” He heaved another sigh, sadly shook his head. “The outfit is surely gonna miss you, Jim. The old Eleventh won’t seem the same.”

“This,” said Jim, “is the way it has to be.”

This conversation took place in the N.C.O.s’ barracks of Camp Allison, headquarters of the 11th Cavalry, in the mid-spring of 1877. This conversation—and this necessary routine of checking and repossessing all the equipment of a veteran cavalry sergeant. Less than an hour before, Sergeant James Carey Rand had tendered his resignation. In accepting it, his commanding officer had expressed deep regret that such a move should be necessary, and had assured him, “I’d rather grant extended leave of absence, but you know that’s impossible.” He had then offered Jim his hand. “The records of this regiment will show that you were honorably discharged. Good luck to you, Rand. I hope you find your man, and that you’ll re-enlist for another hitch with your old outfit.”

The first of a series featuring Big Jim Rand. One can easily envision the jovial version of Big John Wayne playing the character of Big Jim.

As a matter of fact, the entire novel has the feel of an old B-programmer of the 50’s.

It is entertaining, serviceable, albeit devoid of surprise and depth.

The writing, while feeling a bit shorthand, seems to serve as a sort of step-up from reading a screenplay.

With that in mind, it does its job.

Meaty fare it is not. But for an afternoon whilin’, well, t’ain’t bad in that regard.

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...