Brand Fires on the Fridge; or An Out-West Pin-Up Souvenir

What to do when your long-awaited field trip to the West didn’t produce lanky cowboys dropping into your lap?

Buy one.

Take this tall glass of cool water I found at a Long Beach bookstore.

A twofer special from Monarch, from the collection of es

Monarch Books doesn’t reveal the illustrator of this western by King of Cowboy Lit . . . → Read More: Brand Fires on the Fridge; or An Out-West Pin-Up Souvenir

Sagas of Fighting Men and Flaming Guns; Max Brand’s Words Move Me

A mighty happy (um, late) birthday to Max Brand! He never thought much of his westerns between May 29, 1892 and May 12, 1944, but I can’t hold that against him for too long. If you had been named Frederick Schiller Faust, you might have wanted to be a high-falutin’ poet too.

Unlike many pulp western writers, . . . → Read More: Sagas of Fighting Men and Flaming Guns; Max Brand’s Words Move Me

The Man from Laramie; or, The One-Two Punch of 1950s America

Ah, the beauty of pulpish western cover art, filled to the brim with all the perfect 1950s western cover clichés, combined and intertwined in a perfect union of cinematic, pulp western majesty.

Can life get any better?

You might recognize the title, perhaps? Anthony Mann’s films with James Stewart, such as The Man from Laramie (1955) are . . . → Read More: The Man from Laramie; or, The One-Two Punch of 1950s America

On the Procrastination Trail; or, From the Wild Western Collection

Beside my desk is a tall rack of westerns, part of my 350+ collection (a sign of an obsessed mind, yes). It’s perfect for procrastination purposes…

Trail of the Macaw, by Eugene Cunningham Popular Library, 1950 from the collection of es

…such as when I admired this beaut, from 1950. It has the . . . → Read More: On the Procrastination Trail; or, From the Wild Western Collection

Labor Day’s Labor; or, Revising to Hell and Back

One man’s labor is another man’s play.

One man’s Labor Day is another reason to hole up and continue revising a novel.

If I were a paperback western at this moment in novel revisions, I would look like this beauty, which is like the western version of Shiva, the many armed destroyer.

Apache Crossing . . . → Read More: Labor Day’s Labor; or, Revising to Hell and Back

Too Damn Hot; Heat Wave Rage

Thankfully the Northeast has cooled off, because it was getting a little “Hot Town” on us.

Hot Town by Frank Malachy

Cover illustration by Tom Ryan

Perma . . . → Read More: Too Damn Hot; Heat Wave Rage

West World; or, BP versus Spencer Tracy

The world around us is getting Westy, a crazy combo of tantalizing Gold Rush-type possibilities with a shadow side of hubris-based epic fails. Got BP, anyone?
In films and literature of the Wild West, there are small number of basic plot structures–whether you’d call them stereotypical or archetypal depends on how you swing. One structure, based on . . . → Read More: West World; or, BP versus Spencer Tracy

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

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

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…