(James Fetherolf, Desert Scene, oil on canvas)
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmastide and a terrific Sunday. My contributions have decreased somewhat since I’ve increased my load over at The Hipster Conservative. Additionally, I’ve taken to writing western fiction. Fiction is something I am not used to writing so finding the right voice for it has been fun.
Westerns, on the other hand, is something I’ve long loved and grown up with. My dad’s family is from northern Mexico and Texas, so my dad grew up on John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Most of my childhood I grew up camping, fishing, and hunting in the Owens River Valley and the Sierra Nevadas where classics like How the West Was Won was filmed. Westerns to me were always the closest we had to a national mythic cycle. If Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis is true, then the literature and films of the Old West are the best pictures of how Americans view ourselves; a combination of individualist and communal, violent, seeking justice and/or revenge, and acquisitive.
So it was natural that, when encouraged by friend and author Scott Harris, I figured I’d give it a go. My published piece is a micro-short story in an anthology called Bourbon & A Good Cigar with 51 other authors. I have another longer piece out (about 5,000 words) in another anthology which I believe will be called The Last Comanche which should be available later this year. Lastly, I am slowly banging away at my first novel which hopefully I can finish this year.
All that being said, I do hope to get my nose to the grindstone to be writing more, both here and on other sites.
Westerns I’m Reading:
- The Son by Phillip Meyer. I already read this last year when my wife bought it for me, but it has quickly catapulted to the top of list for my Western favorites. An absolutely gripping story of fate, revenge, family and dealing with the complicated legacies of our fathers.
- Nine Years Among The Indians: 1870-1879 by Herman Lehmann. Not terrifically well written as Herman was not especially gifted but it is still a fascinating captivity narrative of life among the Apache and the Comanche. It was great reading for my piece in The Last Comanche.
- The Tijuana Book of the Dead by Luis Alberto Urrea. Maybe at most neo-western but I personally hold northern Mexico and California to be critical parts of the West. If these places count then Luis’ poetry about growing up and surviving as Mexican in the borderlands could definitely be recast as western. Either way it’s great poetry.
Westerns I’m watching:
- Hostiles. This came out two years ago but I only just saw it on Netflix. Christian Bale, Wes Studi and Rosamund Pike absolutely killed it. It was not just another trite Dances with Wolves but was actually emotionally moving. Also really good bit parts from Stephan Lang and Jesse Plemons.
- The Son. My wife can attest to the fact I’m obsessed with this book and so naturally I binged Season 1. Pierce Brosnan is great, though his Texas accent is awful. Jacob Lofland (Justified) as young Eli is great as is Zahn McClarnon (Longmire). Also just a huge Paola Nunez fan.
- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. So many good things have been written about it I won’t bother trying to add paeans. Carve out a couple hours. That being said I refuse to accept that ending of The Gal Who Got Rattled.