Recession Love; or, Bad Times Good for Romances

In a flurry of pink prose, headlines across the virtual Web are proclaiming the primacy of love: despite the sinking economy, people are still ponying up a few bucks to read the latest in love in lust:

Along with chocolate and Big Macs, romance novels are showing a brisk level of sales. Here’s a fact that makes . . . → Read More: Recession Love; or, Bad Times Good for Romances

Shoot-Out at the Viral Corral

If I’m going to battle a cold, I would want Ernest Haycox to write the story.

The Whispering Range, by Ernest Haycox. Wherever the hell that mountain chain is, it also exists in my throat, which is as raw as the dark borderlands and filled with rustlers herding my healthy cells through secret byways.

Night time: Coughs explode like . . . → Read More: Shoot-Out at the Viral Corral

Our Mother’s Relations; or, Tony Hillerman, Jim Chee, and Joe Leaphorn

Tony Hillerman, from laurieroberts.net

My mother read Tony Hillerman’s books–one after the other, like eating potato chips.* One quiet day in her condo**  I stretched out my hand and picked up a creased paperback and immediately fell into Hillerman Country.

Hillerman Country is red and ochre and brown and yellow. Dusty and windy. Populated . . . → Read More: Our Mother’s Relations; or, Tony Hillerman, Jim Chee, and Joe Leaphorn

Cowboy Up; or, Cowboy Fact #21

To cowboy up means to get going. Get the job done. Get into gear. No matter what.
Sundown Jim, by Ernest Haycox
Cover illustration by Jerry Allison
Pocket Books, 1958
from the collection of es

A good friend of ours has cancer–the late-stage, not-very-posterchild-like kind–and he and his wife have to cowboy up on a daily basis. I can’t always . . . → Read More: Cowboy Up; or, Cowboy Fact #21

The Universe According to Annie Proulx; or, Fine Just the Way It Is

Don’t read Annie Proulx’s newest book. Don’t read it if you have a drop of sentimentality about the West, if you call cowboys heroes, or if you smile fondly at pictures of cacti and coyotes or eat funnel cake and ice cream as you buy souvenir T-shirts in quaint little western towns. Proulx’s Fine Just the Way . . . → Read More: The Universe According to Annie Proulx; or, Fine Just the Way It Is

Gunlock; or, From Cowboy to Taxi Driver

In times of moral confusion, I turn to my collection of a gajillion western paperbacks from the 1940s and 1950s*. Their bold colors and bolder titles (such as Action by Night, Gunsmoke Justice, Dig the Spurs Deep) bring me back to my center. Good/bad. Right/wrong. Yes/no.

The one-two punch of pulp writers, who must have banged these . . . → Read More: Gunlock; or, From Cowboy to Taxi Driver

What Does Ida Hoe?

I’ll let you know.

For a few days I’ll be on real trails, hunting down cowboys and cow patties, spuds and starlit nights, lava bombs and limpid lakes, and real live rigamorole. And when I am back, I will deal with the wackness that is the site. (Anyone notice the blessed space that appears and disappears on . . . → Read More: What Does Ida Hoe?

Westerns 101; or, What Owen Wister Gave the World

Yesterday was Owen Wister’s birthday, the man who almost single-handedly created the Cowboy mythos. He’s both a masterful wordsmith and a cautionary example against using the Cowboy indiscriminately. 

Who the hell is Owen Wister? One of my favorite places on the Wild Western Web for all things Americana, The Library of Congress’s . . . → Read More: Westerns 101; or, What Owen Wister Gave the World

Man with No Name Found; or, How I Came to Love "Butcher's Crossing"

Used to prop up many a political point, the Cowboy Hero risks being seen only as a monolithic feature on the American landscape, like those iconic buttes and pinnacles in Monument Valley.* Connoisseurs of westerns know that the Cowboy Hero splinters into impressively variegated types, such as bounty hunters, cowboys (from Jack Elam to Gene . . . → Read More: Man with No Name Found; or, How I Came to Love "Butcher's Crossing"

A Cowboy’s Life; 51…32…

32. Life is more interesting as a Cowboy.

You’ve got to be careful with this Cowboy thing, but with judicious application, the most mundane duties become charged with Mythic meaning.

from Gunman’s Gold, by Max Brand

Pocket Books, 1960

illustrator unknown

Last Stand! Trapped! Brush Fire! or Die! When this is truly the case, you . . . → Read More: A Cowboy’s Life; 51…32…