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Thread: Westerns (literary genre)

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    Westerns (literary genre)

    For when I just want to read for entertainment and not have to worry about thinking too much, I like genre fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, mostly. But I've always wanted to read Westerns, too. I've always liked the old west--horses, guns, Indians, etc. I love the genre in film, but haven't gotten into it in literature.

    So, does anyone have some suggestions for a few books? I have read McCarthy's Blood Meridian, but that's not exactly what I'm looking for--it's not exactly a book one doesn't have to think about while reading. I always like asking here rather than other places because I know that, even though it's genre fiction, whatever is recommended here will most likely be well-written and a cut above the usual junk.

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    I've heard that Warlock by Oakley Hall is a gem.

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    Cool Why not read the Leather Stocking Tales of ....

    James Fenimore Cooper. These novels, while not about the far west, have a lot of action and indians: Last of the Mohicans, The Deerslayer, The Pathfinder, the Prarie, and The Pioneers. Not only will you not be wasting your eyes on inferior genre novels, you'll be reading acknowledged classics.

    The movie adaptations for the Lonesome Dove series: Dead Man's Walk, Comanche Moon, and Lonesome Dove, are excellent also. Again, movies are not as hard on your eyes as reading.

    Audio books for genre novels are good also. I have listened to hundreds of books while driving, both classics and genre. Right now I am listenening to Hardy's Far from the Madding crowd, but I have also listened to mysteries by Agatha Christie, P. D. James, Michael Connolly, and many others Try the novels of Zane Grey for westerns.
    Last edited by dfloyd; 06-26-2012 at 09:52 AM.

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfloyd View Post
    James Fenimore Cooper. These novels, while not about the far west, have a lot of action and indians: Last of the Mohicans, The Deerslayer, The Pathfinder, the Prarie, and The Pioneers. Not only will you not be wasting your eyes on inferior genre novels, you'll be reading acknowledged classics.
    He didn't ask for inferior genre novels; he asked for superior ones. To that end, Mutatis, how about starting with the Western Writers of America's list of the best western novels of the 20th century.

    http://www.listsofbests.com/list/913...e-20th-century

    As for Cooper, Mark Twain had a something to say about him:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3172/3172-h/3172-h.htm

    I've been unable to get through much of Cooper, because the writing is simply awful, at least by modern standards, in addition to Twain's 19th century standards. They are acknowledged classics, yes, but I think more so because they're Important than because they're Good. Gutenberg does have all of them, so while you're there, Mutatis, scan through them for yourself and see what you think.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    It's not a genre I'm in any way familiar with, but one of my friends frequently sings the praises of Charles Portis's True Grit.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    Skol'er of Thinkery The Comedian's Avatar
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    There are many entertaining and well-written western novels.

    I'd first suggest that you read Lonesome Dove; it's a marvelous novel -- expertly written, vibrant & multidimensional characters. . .and loads of great western genre-stuff too!

    Other novels that come to mind are Shane (more of a novella). This novel really started the prototype of the Western gunslinger with a heart. There was a famous film based on the novel too, but the novel is a worthy read.

    If you want to move away from the pure cowboy stuff: Willa Cather's novels are great, My Antonia and O' Pioneers more about pioneering families (and less on cowboys and Indians).

    More genre stuff: you might check out the novels of A.B. Guthrie Jr. His novels The Big Sky and The Way West are well written, but a notch below the others that I've listed, and entertaining.

    Hope this helps!

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    Awesome. Thanks a lot for the suggestions everyone; I'll definitely be doing some browsing on Amazon.

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    On a more serious note, Mutis, bring peter back !

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    Who am I to argue with popular demand?

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    You might want to consider The Virginian by Owen Wister.

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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    The genre is virtually the same across countries, though within different traditions - Japanese Samurai novels, Chinese Wuxia novels, Sir Walter Scott, etc. The main point is the new "pastoral" setting, a variant paradise, as a present backdrop for a romance (as in period style) story. The actual particulars are not relevant - As one of my professors pointed out, there were tons of Romances about Koreans moving into Manchuria written at the tern of the 20th century. The idea of moving and expanding - of pushing a boundary - all tied in with a coming of age - whether it be the landscape or the characters - is the western. In a sense Child Harold is a Western, as is Onegin.

    As for the real westerns as we see them - well, none of them make sense without the landscape - the landscape is everything. It is one of those genres where setting is the most dominant part of the story (in contrast to plot or character development).

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    Well, I love Kung Fu and samurai swords, too, so if you have any recommendations involving those, JBI, I'd love to hear them.

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    I feel terrible that Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour haven't been mentioned. I've read some of Grey, and they are solid. I haven't read much of L'Amour.

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    Butcher's Crossing by John Williams

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    riding a cosmic vortex MystyrMystyry's Avatar
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    You want literature, but some of the later Clint Eastwood westerns were great (really all of the spaghetti trilogy - the first based on Yojimbo - ending in Good Bad and Ugly, and High Plains Drifter -> Pale Rider).

    Also The Magnificent Seven (as above a reworking of The Seven Samurai - actually I saw a quirky sci fi version with Robert Vaughn too), The Wild Bunch, and probably type in 'best Westerns of all time' - though a lot of them aren't

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