One Long, Continuous Story; or, East Meets West in The Chintz Age: Tales of Love and Loss for a New New York

“The western, when I do one, will be one long, continuous story,” the Spanish/Mexican cartoonist Sergio Aragonés once (might have) said. Good versus bad, civilization versus wilderness, lawlessness versus law and order … westerns are part of one long story studded with spurs, mustangs, and ten-gallon hats. But take out Ye Olde West trappings and you’re left with any . . . → Read More: One Long, Continuous Story; or, East Meets West in The Chintz Age: Tales of Love and Loss for a New New York

Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

From the floor of the dry lake, sunrise began with the flaring upthrust of Lonely Mountain…. Silhouetted ramparts in deep shadow rang brightly with the fireball impact of the sun. Etched by early morning dust, sunlight stabbed through crevices as huge glowing shafts across the vast desert floor…. clumps of of scattered tumbleweed hid their brambled . . . → Read More: Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

“In the early days storms drove the cattle irresistibly before them; the cowboys not able to handle the frightened and half frozen animals were forced to drift with them, often for a hundred miles, living as best they could.” –Frederic Remington

“A bovine was what made a cowboy a cowboy, with the help of a horse, and . . . → Read More: Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

“Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

Anson Mount, handsome and gifted star of AMC’s railroad blood-mud-and-guts western Hell on Wheels, waxes poetic in Cowboy & Indians magazine (August 2014) as he explains what about westerns gets him in the solar plexus. But first he stakes an XY chromosome claim on the genre, describing it as perhaps the most masculine of them all, depicting manly manly men men men men men . . . → Read More: “Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

Searching for the Mother Lode; or, How Writing about Writing Reviews for Western Novels Is Like One Big Gold Rush

Mission: Craft  reasonably intelligent author queries to write reviews of two novels set in a western mining town (new trend?).

Focus: Mining towns. No idea, really, what they’re all about. I’m all gunslingers and cowboys. Miners are all gold and digging and claims. I think. 

Objective: Get back in the saddle and…research!!!

I mean, look, classic western towns are easy. Bank . . . → Read More: Searching for the Mother Lode; or, How Writing about Writing Reviews for Western Novels Is Like One Big Gold Rush

Return of Bucko; or, Now That My Saddle Sores Have Disappeared I Have to Start All Over Again

Every once in a long while, there comes a time in a cowboy/girl’s life, when he/she has to stop drifting, stop gambling and whoring and paying for expensive whiskey, and pay down some bills. Hang up the hat a while and put on a clean shirt.

After all, if Shane could do it, so could I, was . . . → Read More: Return of Bucko; or, Now That My Saddle Sores Have Disappeared I Have to Start All Over Again

When the Legend Becomes Fact; or, The Sand Creek Massacre’s Inconvenient Truths

This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

That infamous line in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (dir. John Ford, 1962) succinctly describes much of what lies behind sepia-toned country nostalgia and pumped-up cowboy-wannabe posturing: the legend of the West is bigger than its reality, and it’s a lot more interesting to watch . . . → Read More: When the Legend Becomes Fact; or, The Sand Creek Massacre’s Inconvenient Truths

Justin America, Webisode 1; or, The Extreme Perils of Parting Ways

Justin America is just the average guy pursuing the American dream—although he’s doing it in a dusty red union suit, no boots or hat or clothes, and with a bullet hole in his side. But Americans always have that sense, rightly or wrongly, that they can do ANYTHING, so no worries! Right? . . . um, I . . . → Read More: Justin America, Webisode 1; or, The Extreme Perils of Parting Ways

Less Talk, More Action; or, The Gimlet-Eyed Beauty of Buying Cowboys

The silence of a cowboy-hatted western hero speaks volumes.

This ad for billboards–discovered on a NYC avenue–says it all: if you have to explain yourself, you might as well herd toenail fungus for a living.

So the best of the best buckos never use more words when fewer will do.

In the best of the best westerns, just unadulterated . . . → Read More: Less Talk, More Action; or, The Gimlet-Eyed Beauty of Buying Cowboys

Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu

Sometimes it  takes just a split second to realize (or remember) that those peddling the western mythos in the middle of last century thought their audience–the common folk eating TV dinners on vinyl poufs–were idiots.

I know full well that our nostalgia for westerns and the monolithic western hero is only made possible by crafty screenwriting and . . . → Read More: Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu