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13 March 2009

Who wants to wrassle?

In a separate communique, it has been argued that Louis L'Amour is not the greatest writer in the western genre:

Hello to all who receive this message--I was reading the Church blog and came across an inaccuracy so astounding that I simply could not let it pass unchallenged...Louis L'Amour is NOT the greatest writer of Westerns ever known. Elmer Kelton is without doubt the finest practitioner of the greatest form of literature known to modern man. A close second would be Elmore Leonard. Please also note Larry McMurtry who penned the greatest Western novel ever written. Lamour is a witless hack who couldn't carry Elmer's sweaty horse blanket to the barn. As a plus, almost all of Elmer Kelton's books feature the great state of Texas as a backdrop. Stories of men and boys overcoming evil and the elements, while always doing the right thing; being true to the code and protecting the womenfolk and little kids.

I personally find Elmer Kelton to be boring. It is the truth though, that Texas is a fine place.
Larry McMurtry gets (deserved) accolades for the Lonseome Dove book ONLY, if for no other reason than the moccasin ball in the river. OK, maybe it's sequel too, but none more for anything else ever.
Elmore Leonard is perhaps the True Master.

But, hackneyed and formulaic as he can be, I very much like L'Amour's bareknuckle fisticuffs, his knowledgeable use of the 4 Corners region, and all the injuns in say, Last Stand at Papago Wells, for example or, perhaps...Hondo!?!

Also, let's not forget Frank O'Rourke, who wrote The Professionals(!) and , my favorite, Range War... "Bryan could smell violence in the air when he rode in. The whole town was packing iron. The high country was about to explode in a bloody struggle for land..."

That's what I'm talking about!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must add that I am currently reading Six Fingered Stud, by Lance Horner, who also penned such classics as Mandingo, and The Mustee. So there's my bona fides. Take it as you will.


Gunnar Berg said...

My grandfather had a bookshelf full of Zane Grey, but who'd really want to wrassle over a genera that is, almost by definition, so much hokie crap. I will give "Lonesome Dove" a pass, as it really isn't a stereotypical Western Novel.

reverend dick said...

Uh oh...looks like a mixte technically doesn't need twin top tubes to be classified a mixte...

Gunnar, "hokie" I'll give you...but crap? One man's crap is another man's beat to hell LOOKING Alex Singer. Who'd want to wrassle? Why a shirtless giant of a man with a shadowed iron jaw full of grim determination and chaw. With a knife in his boot and secret training he received as a lad from a crusty saddlebum to whom no one else would give the time of day, save a loyal and fundamentally Good boy.
That's who.

li'l hateful said...

The first western novel I ever read was L'Amour's "The Lonesome Gods" and he writes for a genre niche, but that's no reason to wipe him out entirely as "hack". Genre by its nature generates "hack" because you have to conform to expectations. Now, Leonard broke with that and mixed his genres and his stories are great, but L'Amour was like the true girlfriend who waits for you to come home from the war in France where you've been dabbling with the hookers. That's all I'm sayin'. Oh yeah, and the moccasins in the river ... I threw the book down and cried like a baby at that part. That's the power of books, amen.

Gunnar Berg said...

Aww, you right again. Sorry. Damn. Where do you get the western pictures? The Wyeth is great and the earlier posted Cowpoke and Bar Girl was terrific.

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Anonymous said...

L'amour is the only sherriff who matters in this town, and if you don't like it? Talk to the Sacketts.