Saturday, May 7, 2016

In which I read a western

I don't think I have read a western novel since I was in  grade school.  That's sort of amazing, given the number of westerns I watched on TV and at the movies; I started, but didn't finish Charles Portis' True Grit.  But because of something I read on-line, I think probably at Bill Crider's blog, and partly because my wife is a major fan of the old Hopalong Cassidy movies and TV shows, I acquired a few Hoppy books, and have now read one (started another and set it aside).

The one I set aside was written by the creator of the character, Clarence Mulford, who published 29 books about Cassidy between 1904 and 1941.  I, in fact, started the first one, Bar-20, which was the name of the ranch on which Hoppy was working as a hand.  I can't tell you much about the plot, because I didn't get past the first chapter, hung up over all the dialogue being in dialect, which is a problem for me.  Especially when the author uses a dialect spelling that is pronounced just as the "real" world is--in this case "yu" for "you."  I may try to get back to it (or watch the movie).

The one I read was Trouble-Shooter, published in 1951 and the fourth of four written by Louis L'Amour (The Rustlers of West Fork; The Trail to Seven Pines; The Riders of High Rock).  Somewhat to my surprise, L'Amour writes cleanly and smoothly.  There's a mystery of sorts here, although the "solution" of it becomes quite obvious quite early on.  The characters are reasonably well-developed and act in ways consistent with their characters.  The book includes two women as principal or supporting characters, and both are depicted as competent, strong people--which was nice to see.  While the plot is fairly transparent, and has one really big glitch--the transplanting of a 40-year-old, several ton cottonwood tree in a way that fools people--the ride is nice.  Those western heroes, though, really could take a licking and keep on ticking, couldn't they?

I'll read some more.

1 comment:

  1. When L'Amour was trying, he could tell a good story. When he wasn't, well, . . .