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KEV67

Westerns

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Why are there so few westerns in bookshops these days? The only ones I generally see are True Grit by Charles Portis, the Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry, and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It is odd, because it used to be such a popular genre. I think maybe Hollywood killed it. My theory is that when anyone wrote a good western it was immediately turned into a film, so everyone remembers the film but not the book.

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Started reading a western called Whisky When We're Dry by John Larison. It's about a girl who's an amazing shot. No doubt she offs a load of bad guys when she gets a bit older. That's a thing I've noticed: even the westerns you can still buy in bookshops, with the big exception of Lonesome Dove, are a twist on the old macho western. I think Blood Meridian subverts the genre, but I have not read it yet. The last western I thought I was reading turned into some weird western/horror/sci-fi mash-up (Beyond the Horizon, Ryan Ireland). You can still buy True Grit by Charles Portis, which is a great book, but that's largely about a girl too.

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Whiskey When We're all Dry is turning out better than I thought. There is something to be said about the Wild West. There are the vast spaces without much in the way of law. People were well armed. People were desperate. It was probably not a unique environment in those ways, but I cannot think of any quite the same. Sword and sandals books aren't quite the same. King Arthur books or Medieval books about knights aren't the same. Most the fighting is done by armies in those books. There's not so much private enterprise.

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I am a big fan of Western Books but I agree they have seemed to lost their popularity. There are many of the old Western books though that are still worth a read. here are just a few:

 

Cormac McCarthy's All The Pretty Horses trilogy is excellent as is the more modern (1980's) No Country For Old Men.

Louis L'Amour has a ton of books that he wrote including Hondo. (I have the complete set of all L'Amour's books)

A.B. Guthrie's "The Big Sky" is a tremendous book on the early Mountain Men in the west.

Win Blevin's Give Your Heart To The Hawks is another great book of the early Mountain Men (this book leads to many others in that genre - all good)

William W. Johnstone is another good writer, especially his earlier books on the West.

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I have read and enjoyed most of Cormac McCarthy's books. And I have no wish to 'derail' this thread, but I loved the 'Longmire' series by Craig Johnson.

Not 'classic' westerns, but the modern day settings give Sherrif Walt Longmire plenty of scope for what he does best. His best friend is Henry Standing Bear, a Cheyenne warrior. Walt lives on the fringes of his own county,and the local Native American reservation; so aside from modern problems like drug smuggling, kidnapping and murder, there are also racial tensions bubbling under the surface in many of the books. Certainly 'westerns' in the broad sense of the term, but not historical 'wild west' tales.

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5 hours ago, timebug said:

I have read and enjoyed most of Cormac McCarthy's books. And I have no wish to 'derail' this thread, but I loved the 'Longmire' series by Craig Johnson.

Not 'classic' westerns, but the modern day settings give Sherrif Walt Longmire plenty of scope for what he does best. His best friend is Henry Standing Bear, a Cheyenne warrior. Walt lives on the fringes of his own county,and the local Native American reservation; so aside from modern problems like drug smuggling, kidnapping and murder, there are also racial tensions bubbling under the surface in many of the books. Certainly 'westerns' in the broad sense of the term, but not historical 'wild west' tales.

I have read all of the Longmire books by Craig Johnson. They are good reading, and yes, they are to be considered as western in the broad sense.

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2 hours ago, muggle not said:

I have read all of the Longmire books by Craig Johnson. They are good reading, and yes, they are to be considered as western in the broad sense.


I bought the first Longmire book for my father today. We both loved the Longmire TV series.

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Glad some of you liked them! As I said, I did not know if they qualified for the 'Westerns' thread; to me they certainly do, but i have known genre 'purists' who would not accept this. Unless it is set in 'the old wild west' it does not count (to them!). Worst ever was a chap who used to come into my bookshop and demand all the 'classic' westerns, for no more than 10p apiece, as it was 'only a secondhand' bookshop!

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I was just reading the blurb of Whiskey When We're Dry (which I am currently reading). Guess what? It is currently in development for a feature film. I don't know if that means for sure it will be a feature film. I have a theory the reason why there are not many classic Western books is that they all get turned into films almost immediately. 

 

Regarding the scope of Westerns, would the forum consider The Last of the Mohicans a Western? I started reading, but I can't remember if I finished it. I remember it being pretty good. I watched the film with Daniel Day Lewis. I was impressed with his ability to run long distances very fast.

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3 hours ago, KEV67 said:

I was just reading the blurb of Whiskey When We're Dry (which I am currently reading). Guess what? It is currently in development for a feature film. I don't know if that means for sure it will be a feature film. I have a theory the reason why there are not many classic Western books is that they all get turned into films almost immediately. 

 

Regarding the scope of Westerns, would the forum consider The Last of the Mohicans a Western? I started reading, but I can't remember if I finished it. I remember it being pretty good. I watched the film with Daniel Day Lewis. I was impressed with his ability to run long distances very fast.

I have a broad view of Westerns and would consider Last of the Mohicans a Western.

 

A really good Western with some humor is a book by Robert B. Parker:

https://www.amazon.com/Appaloosa-Virgil-Cole-Everett-Hitch-ebook/dp/B000P2A3Y6/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=appaloosa&qid=1629933969&s=books&sr=1-1

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15 hours ago, muggle not said:

btw, 90 year old Clint Eastwood will be starring in a new Western to be released in September. It is title Cry Macho.

 

Official Trailer (imdb.com)

Interesting, it was written as a screenplay in the 70s but rejected. So the author turned it into a book and tried to pitch it as a screenplay again. Lots of actors have been pitched for the starring role, including Arnold Schwarzegger and Pierce Brosnan. Makes you wonder what sort of film it would be.

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On 8/30/2021 at 12:04 PM, KEV67 said:

Interesting, it was written as a screenplay in the 70s but rejected. So the author turned it into a book and tried to pitch it as a screenplay again. Lots of actors have been pitched for the starring role, including Arnold Schwarzegger and Pierce Brosnan. Makes you wonder what sort of film it would be.

No need to wonder. It is directed by and stars Clint Eastwood. That says it all.

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I have started reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. I almost didn't start reading it because I am a bit squeamish. Modern westerns tend to be very violent I've noticed. So far Blood Meridian is very good. I like the Wild West turn of phrase.

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Blood Meridian is very good. It is very violent. I cannot remember reading any westerns that were not violent.  I suppose that's the point. Blood Meridian seems similar to Lonesome Dove.

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I'm currently reading the 'original' western (apparently): Owen Wister's The Virginian. Proving a very good read - definitely 'classic' material. 

 

Personally, I wouldn't include The Last of the Mohicans as a Western.  Its set in the East!

 

 

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Finished Blood Meridian. The violence is horrific but the language is lyrical. Not as good as Lonesome Dove, but still dern good.

 

The Penny Dreadful I am still reading could be considered in part a western, as well as seafaring, horror and fantasy. The Red Indians in this are Eskimos, although they are not depicted how I imagine them to be. 

 

I heard film critic, Mark Kermode, review Cry Macho. He reckoned it was a bit corny. Sounds like Clint Eastwood might be past his best.

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