The Wyoming Lone Ranger; or, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire Rides Again

There’s a branch of crime genre that’s set in the grizzled lands of the Wild West, its gumshoes/police chiefs in boots, spurs, and cowboy hats, as taciturn as any LA noir street dick–and as secretly well-read, as white-knightly, and as troubled.

Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire, in his gritty page-turner “Longmire series” novels, the latest . . . → Read More: The Wyoming Lone Ranger; or, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire Rides Again

Justified My Love; or, Elmore Leonard Updates Western Hero

Silence is golden. Combine that with a serious western hero, and you have gunpowder to burn.

(Just one of the many promos pics of Olyphant aiming a gun. Note the un-western tie.)

One of the best modern takes on the classic laconic western hero is U.S. Marshal Rayland Givens, from the master of gab, Elmore Leonard. Leonard’s dialogue–from . . . → Read More: Justified My Love; or, Elmore Leonard Updates Western Hero

The Way of the Novel; or, Cowboy Up and Write Already

Writing a novel is not for the common mortal. And I have been all too mortal these days. Too whiney. Too morose. Too passive. Just like the hero of my novel (or so I’ve heard from my ever-patient agent). The End. Ho hum.

Or have I been pressed to set the novel-in-progress . . . → Read More: The Way of the Novel; or, Cowboy Up and Write Already

New Grit; or, The Coen Brothers Remake Retribution

Vengeance is mine, saith the main character of True Grit, because I hath paid good money for it. So begins the saga of a trail of revenge from so-called civilized town to wilderness, a narrative trail so often traveled in westerns that it’s become like a tame, broad, well-lit avenue with stoplights.

The players: Grizzled, troubled veteran with heart . . . → Read More: New Grit; or, The Coen Brothers Remake Retribution

Villains and Badmen: Your Own Worst Enemy, Part I

So in the What Silver-Screen Western Hero Are You? quiz you figured out you’re a lawman with a touch of singing cowboy and a slice of gunslinger. Excellent. But you still want to walk on the dark side. All right, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Just know that good versus evil isn’t just a story—it’s a . . . → Read More: Villains and Badmen: Your Own Worst Enemy, Part I

To Hell on a Fast Horse; or, Epic Happiness Pursued by Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett

To Hell on a Fast Horse: Pat Garrett, Billy the Kid, and and the Epic to Chase to Justice in the Old West, by Mark Lee Gardner began as a story of two men on opposite sides of the law, and ended as two life stories that compete to this day: Billy the Kid’s self-satisfying romp . . . → Read More: To Hell on a Fast Horse; or, Epic Happiness Pursued by Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett

Lonely Are the Brave; or, Hearting/Hating That Brave Cowboy Thing

Another movie for the Iranian president to see, or any other person who yearns to be a movie-type cowboy instead of a real one.

Lonely Are the Brave, filmed in 1962 with Kirk Douglas as the drifter rejecting the modern West, and the great Gena Rowlands and Walter Matthau as his costars.
It was based on The Brave . . . → Read More: Lonely Are the Brave; or, Hearting/Hating That Brave Cowboy Thing

Elmer Kelton 1926-2009; or, Happy Trails

“I have often been asked how my characters differ from the traditional, larger-than-life heroes of the mythical West,” Mr. Kelton said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News in 2007. “ ‘Those,’ I reply, ‘are seven feet tall and invincible. My characters are 5-8 and nervous.’ ”

Elmer Kelton died August 22 in Texas, after a long and . . . → Read More: Elmer Kelton 1926-2009; or, Happy Trails

Buckaroo’s Back; or, Cowboy Facts 16 and 15

You ever go through life thinking you should’ve written that novel/filmed that movie/accepted that job/kissed that girl or guy/said yes when someone asked you to strip in front of a camera/handed that demo CD to that music exec/said hello to Paul Newman/told your best friend you love him or her/changed careers/hugged your kid/WRITTEN THAT NOVEL?
Well, don’t . . . → Read More: Buckaroo’s Back; or, Cowboy Facts 16 and 15

Denis Johnson’s Land; or, The West of "Nobody Move"

The cover of Denis Johnson’s new novel Nobody Move screams KITSCHPULPNOIR with red and yellow letters and bullet holes spangling the jacket.
Famously serialized in Playboy, the story has plenty to like, or plenty to dislike, depending on how cooked you like your femme fatales, gun-toting heavies, and convoluted plots. I take mine hard as nails, so . . . → Read More: Denis Johnson’s Land; or, The West of "Nobody Move"