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Topic: Your Bet, You Son-of-a ....

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Subject: Your Bet, You Son-of-a ....
Date Posted: 12/30/2009 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Therefore Trampas spoke. "Your bet, you son-of-a--."
The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: "When you call me that, SMILE." 
~ The Virginian

 

I am looking for classic novels (fifty years or older) that feature the wild west, pioneering, and such. So far I have the following on order:

  • O Pioneers by Willa Cather (1913)
  • The Virginian by Owen Wister (1902)

and I am considering Shane by Jack Shaefer (1949) but I wonder if it's too pulpy fictiony.

Any other recommendations, Sidewinder? No Lonesome Dove or Little House, please.

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 12/30/2009 3:24 PM ET
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Everything Willa Cather wrote is gold. My Antonia is also about pioneering. The Professor's House, while set about half on the east coast, also has about half the book in the form of a diary exploring Indian ruins in the cliff caves. They both have an incredibly strong sense of the land.

Date Posted: 12/30/2009 3:32 PM ET
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Everything Willa Cather wrote is gold. My Antonia is also about pioneering.

True. I read My Antonia a couple years ago. It was a perfect introduction to Cather's writing. I am confident I'll like O Pioneers. Maybe I'll get Death Comes to the Archbishop as well.

Date Posted: 12/30/2009 4:53 PM ET
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A. B. Guthrie's The Way West was published in 1949, so I suppose it qualifies as more than a half-century old.  But, if you  consider Shane  as possibly  being too 'pulpy', you might consider this novel about the psychodynamics of the folks on one of the wagon trains headed West that way, too.  The Big Sky, a kind of sequel to TWW, was published in 1965, so is too 'young' to qualify.  I don't know whether to mention Zane Gray or not.   I once read about a college somewhere that offered an English literature course called "Second-Rate Fiction",.' Zane was one of the writers included, andEdgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan the Ape-Man) was another.



Last Edited on: 6/22/10 10:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/30/2009 4:59 PM ET
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Hamlin Garland's father was a true pioneer. He left good land in Wisconsin because there was land nobody had farmed yet for the settling in Kansas. A few years later, he left that for land that didn't turn out to be good at all far West. Hamlin writes from a unique prospective in A Son Of The Middle Border, in that his father had him behind a plow in Kansas at the ripe old age of ten. Ten hours a day.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 12/30/2009 9:21 PM ET
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The only westerns I have read are Louis L'Amour and Larry McMurtry. I highly recommend both. But I know McMurtry isnt 50 yrs old, not sure how old Lamore is. IMy daughter liked Zane Greys Riders of the Purple Sage. If I remember correctly that one is from the early 1900's.  

Date Posted: 12/31/2009 1:51 PM ET
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The only westerns I have read are Louis L'Amour and Larry McMurtry

I've read Lonesome Dove and love it.

L' Amour is so ubiquitous that I consider him as the Daniel Steele or James Patterson of the genre. I've read one of his novels decades ago and I can't remember anything about it even it's title.  I just know I've read one. So sad.

Date Posted: 12/31/2009 2:06 PM ET
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Much obliged, partners. I am well stocked now.

I've ordered

  • The Big Sky (Book 1) (1947)
  • The Way West  (Book 2) (1949)
  • Riders of the Purple Sage (1912)
  • Shane (1949)

Wish listed:

  • A Son of the Middle Border (1917)
  • A Daughter of the Middle Border (1922)

 

Date Posted: 12/31/2009 4:28 PM ET
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I forgot all about Hamlin Garland until I read John W.'s post.  In my collection I have a paperback of Main-Travelled Roads, published in 1891.  It's a book that "challenges the concept of the American Dream.  It reveals the stubborn courage and pessimistic wit of midwest farmers who are scarcely conscious that they are somewhat to blame for their own misfortunes.  Inspired by a visit to the Dakota farm country of his youth, Hamlin Garland's Main-Travelled Roads depicts the half- resigned, half-rebellious men and women who work the arid soil for the profit of shrewd landowners.  These characters share a sense of deprivation, losing their farms, loved ones, and faith in people--with such recurrence that they feel guilt at even their own occasional, belated successes.  "If anyone is still at a loss to account for that uprising of the farmers in the West which is the translation of the Peasants' War into modern and republican terms, let him read Main-Travelled Roads . . ." --W.D. Howells

The picture it paints is sure very, very different from the one shown in all those Hopalong Cassidy movies  I used to see at Saturday afternoon children's matinees!

 

Date Posted: 1/7/2010 2:54 PM ET
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My all-time favorite is Giants in the Earth by O. E. Rolvaag.  A group of Norwegian immigrants move to the central plains (very near where I'm from, actually) and try to not die.  Kind of depressing, but a whole lot better than that Little House crap.

Date Posted: 1/8/2010 1:29 AM ET
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but a whole lot better than that Little House crap.

  Dems blaspheemouse wurds.  LOL

Date Posted: 1/8/2010 12:36 PM ET
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And I forgot Main Travelled Roads. I don't see how. Garland's unique position  is that he was so highly observant and had such ability to describe what he had seen. Better than that, he lived it; and when he described it he showed both the beauty and wonder of it side by side with the grim reality.

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 1:17 AM ET
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Personally, I thought the Virginian was much more pulpy than Shane.  Second the Giants in the Earth recommendation.  You may be interested in Brett Harte's stories; the best known are "Luck of Roaring Camp" and "Outcasts of Poker Flats" and collections of his stories are usually named after one or the other of those.  Also good is The Ox-Bow Incident, which was a novel before it was turned into the classic movie starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn.



Last Edited on: 1/10/10 1:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/10/2010 1:13 PM ET
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Well Kari I haven't read any of them yet and I am looking forward to it. I've got Main-Travelled Roads on the way as well as Giants and Ox-Bow. The rest are in my TBR line.

Brett Harte's name has been popping up here and there. I've give him a gander.

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 4:44 PM ET
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Come on, Kari, don't you Louisiana folks spoil enough for us Razorbacks. How am I ever going to move two absolute virgin copies of The Virginian off my shelf? :)

Date Posted: 4/26/2010 11:49 AM ET
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Well, I am reading The Virginian now and I quite like it so far. Sure it's about some 24 yr old pup, but I do like Wister's humor.

I read Shane too. It was better than the dumber movie, but not by much.

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 11:50 AM ET
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for the Giants of the Earth recommendation. I finally took it off my TBR pile. What a nice change of prose! So different from the recent Hemingway novel I just finished. Descriptions! Personification! Yes!

Date Posted: 5/27/2010 5:56 PM ET
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I'm surprised you don't have Edna Ferber on your list. Also, for westerns, I'd put Zane Grey right up there as an author that should at least be checked out. I discovered him long beforeLouis L'Amour.

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 10:58 AM ET
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Thank you, Dorthy. I have Ferber's So Big on order.

Date Posted: 5/28/2010 2:38 PM ET
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And it was Edna Ferber who gave us the 'book' for that great American 'musical', Showboat.   It's one of the books I feel everyone who aspires to a career in the theater had ought to be required to read.  (My mother would tell me, occasionally, that when I was a baby, it had been my crying that got her asked to leave during a showing of the film, Cimarron, based on Ferber's novel by the same name.) 



Last Edited on: 12/30/11 5:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/18/2010 2:15 PM ET
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I know it's been awhile since this thread was posted to, but I only just clicked on the CL forum for the first time and I'd like to add my 2 cents in case someone else checks this out.

Don Coldsmith's books aren't 50 years or older, but they have such a unique perspective that I had to mention his books. The 1st book in the series, 'Trail of the Spanish Bit' starts with a Conquistador and his mount being injured and lost in the New World. He is found by the 'savages' and forever changes their society. The series then continues through the years with the novels being told from the Native American side ot story.

J. P. S. Brown is hard to find but if you want Westerns that were written by someone that has done it all himself, these books are for you. His first, 'Jim Kane,' was published in 1960. (This book was turned into the movie, 'Pocket Money' with Paul Newman and Lee Marvin, in 1972.) The National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City keeps a collection of J. P. S. Brown's books. He's received the Will James Society's Big Enough Award for literary acheivement in the cowboy tradition, 1999. And he received the Arizona Historical Society's Lawrence Clark Powell Award for lifetime achievement in Southwestern Letters, 2003. I just mention these things to show he is very well respected western author and writes authentic stories.

Lastly, Will James published 'Smokey the Cowhorse' in 1926. Another real cowboy with authentic real-life novels.

I don't know if you would consider these 'Classics' but they sure do fit the definition of pioneering the west.

Date Posted: 6/22/2010 3:49 PM ET
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Jack Shaefer had a heart and soul as big as the sky. Nothing of pulp fictiony brutality in this work. I've not read Shane but have heard it's great. I read Monte Walsh and it was great. L' Amour's Down the Long Hills was simply told, not a word out of place or extrra, and gripping action- not a bit macho or cliche that mars some of his other books. Dorothy Johnson's Man That Shot Liberty Valence transcends the genre - her short stories are good too.

Date Posted: 6/22/2010 9:41 PM ET
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If you are going to read some more Cather, be sure to pick up One of Ours. While it is not exclusively all about pioneering and such, it is perhaps my favorite Cather novel. She definetly touches on a lot of subjects in there. Highly recommended if you are a fan of her work.

Date Posted: 6/23/2010 3:41 PM ET
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Oh, I forgot Wolf Song by Harvey Fergusson.

It was written in the 1920 and discerning readers and critics consider it a classic western.

I will second Cather's One of Ours, the story of a young man who missed out being a pioneer but became an idealistic US foot soldier in WWI. It won a Pulitzer Prize in the early 1920s, but it is a forgotten novel now, maybe because of its earnest tone and topic not many are interested in nowadays.