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Author Topic: Readin' westerns.  (Read 2199 times)
JamesK
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« on: December 09, 2005, 08:36:24 AM »

On the West of the Law list, a member mentioned the (apparently) mega-popular Edge series of westerns and I must confess that I'd never heard of them. I've since located a copy of Edge #1: The Loner, so we'll have to see what all the fuss is about. He also talked about his early encounters with Louis L'Amour.

I didn't get into recommended reading in the PDF for West of the Law because I felt throwing a page-and-a-half of movies, some obscure, would be enough for some people, but I suppose it would be remiss not to discuss at least a little the western books and/or stories that have influenced us. The more we learn about one another's tastes, the better the final game will be... at least in theory.

The first westerns I ever read were the Lone Star series from Jove. This must have been back in the early 1980s, when the series was new and there was -- as I have learned since -- something of a boom in series western fiction. Because the '80s were The Decade of the Ninja, the Lone Star books had a samurai tossed in with the usual action. Oh, and there was sex, too. At least three sex scenes per book. Teen boys (and grown men) like the sexy.

Reading the Lone Star books led to its companion series, Longarm, which also had sex in tandem with more traditional western action. It was only after reading those that I finally came around to the Louis L'Amours and Zane Grays of the genre. Sort of an ass-backwards introduction to the western, really, but whatever works.

I still have a fondness for those "adult westerns" from Jove, despite their almost uniformly atrocious writing. Lone Star is defunct now, but Longarm continues. I also pick up the odd western I spot at the grocery store or wherever. Not too long ago I managed to get my hand on seven novels by Joe Millard, written in the late '60s, based on the Eastwood/Leone bounty killer character they made famous.

When it comes to westerns in print, I tend to go for the stories with more grit, more violence and more sex. It's because I'm such a sucker for the Italo-Westerns, I'm sure. The occasional L'Amour (like Shalako) can grab me, but oftentimes I'm not that enthused by the more traditional material.

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Christopher
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2005, 10:06:27 AM »

I just took a class about the myths of the Western. I had been interested in reading some westerns, since I liked western movies but hadn't read much within the genre. One of my favorite authors from the class was Dorothy Johnson (The Hanging Tree, "A Man Called Horse," "Lost Sister," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"). I also really enjoyed reading True Grit and Shane.

I just finished Lauran Paine's The Open Range Men, which the movie Open Range came from. The movie is actually quite different from the book. And I have several other westerns sitting around waiting to be read. I may get to one or so of them within the next few weeks.

I've read Richard Matheson's Shadow on the Sun, which is more of a horror story set in the Old West, but I know he has some other more traditional western stories that I'd love to read.

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JamesK
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2005, 08:21:28 AM »

Just in case anyone's curious, here's a little bit of purple prose from Longarm on the Border, the entry in the long-running series that I'm reading right now. It's a perfect example of just how bad these "adult westerns" can get sometimes:

Taking him by the hand, she pulled him into the shelter of the brush. They'd taken only a few steps into the screening growth when she stopped and began fumbling with the buttons of her riding habit. The thought flashed through Longarm's mind that this was going to be clumsy and uncomfortable, but the woman had other ideas. She let the skirt fall, slid her drawers down to follow the skirt, and went to her knees on the soft, cushioning grass.

"From behind!" she urged. "Like a horse mounts a mare! Be my stud! Now, right now!"

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cigar joe
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2005, 08:59:49 PM »

Check out Trevenian's "Incident At Twenty Mile" it reads just like a SW with wierd villians and an unlikely hero.

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Tim
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2005, 09:50:04 PM »

  My all-time favorite book is Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry.  If you're looking for a great western read, this is a safe bet.  One of the few books where the movie/miniseries is as good as the book.  Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones were born to play Gus and Call.

  Another good one is Frank O'Rourke's The Professionals which was turned into the movie with Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin.  Highly enjoyable and full of action.

  And how can I not mention Louis L'Amour?  I love all his stories, but my favorites are Hondo, The Shadow Riders, Catlow, and just about any of the Sackett stories.

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JamesK
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2005, 09:48:28 AM »

Folks here might want to check out Richard Wheeler's Observations, a blog that is (for now) primarily concerned with the death of the literary American Western.

Richard Wheeler is a multiple Golden Spur Award-winning author, and he knows what he's talking about. He's worked on westerns from the writing side and the editing side. So far he's shared some very interesting insights into the mismanagement of the literary western, and I look forward to reading what else he has to share. I'm sure that if you drop by his blog, you'll find his writings equally as interesting.

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