Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Long Ride Westerns

"I believe I would know an old cowboy in hell with his hide burnt off. It's the way they stand and walk and talk," stated cowboy E.C. "Teddy Blue" Abbott in his memoirs We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher.

Teddy Blue had the luxury (if you call hardtack and raw-boned horses, luxury) of cowboying in the late 1800's, and drew on vast experience to pen his memoirs. Contemporary writer Elmore Leonard may not know which end of a cow gets up first but, before he made a killing writing crime, he corralled the western experience through pulps and novels. He published his first pulp, Trail of the Apache in 1951, and a novel, The bounty hunters soon followed. Voted by the Western Writers of America as one of 25 best westerns, Hombre was written in 1960 and starred Paul Newman in 1966. Short story 3 10 to Yuma was adapted to the screen twice. The latest stars Russell Crowe and has everything you'd want in a good Western-cows, cowboys, pretty girls,and plenty of conflict and gunplay. PCPL has both movie versions as well as print anthologies containing 3 10 to Yuma including The Tonto woman and other western stories.

Elmore switched to crime when westerns started losing popularity but, in both genres, his stories gallop along on the backs of flawed and complex protagonists (visit Ben Wade in 3 10 and John Russell in Hombre) and sharp dialog.

So riders, I mean readers, it's rodeo time. Mosey on over to the Western section and pick up a title written by Leonard or Robert Parker - yes, that Robert Parker, he wrote five - Zane Grey, Max Brand, Elmer Kelton, Wayne D. Overhosler or local writer/cowboy JPS Brown, pull off your boots and travel back to a time when men were men and (you know).

And, in March, don't forget to stop by and say Howdy to Elmore Leonard while you're at the Tucson Festival of Books

Find all of these titles and more Westerns at your Library.

Vicki Ann

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