Friday, March 29, 2013

One of A. B. Guthrie, Jr.'s, Novels

A new high school teacher and principal comes to the Montana town of Arfive and runs into difficult moral problems that has him in a tizzy as he copes with them and his new life. He is at odds with the school board on some of the proposals put forth and especially against the liquor magnate's suggestion that the school provide an award of $25 for the top student in each class for the mogul's support of the school. And he has other problems with his pregnant wife who has a history of miscarriages and has another one and gets pregnant again. Instead of giving up and returning to the East, he stays on at Arfive and finds a fulfilling life after all.

This is a story about a Western town in the midst of changing from the Old West to the Modern West where infernal, noisy machines are being bought by the rich locals for transport and the use of the horse and buggy and outdoor toilets are beginning to phase out. There are none of the traditional gunfights or settlers being kicked off the land by the big ranchers or fights over water and other rights. There are the typical small-town political battles mainly centered around the school board and moral issues caused by the local madam who finally retires and goes into the restaurant business.

The name of the novel is Arfive, a Houghton Mifflin Company publication copyright 1970 by the author and printed in the good old U.S.A. It is the fourth book in the "series", the others being the Pulitzer Prize winning The Way West, The Big Sky (a terrific novel in my opinion), and These Thousand Hills, all great reading.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Clay Allison, Gunman

Ray Hogan wrote an exciting story with The Life and Death of Clay Allison. The cover says it's "The true story of a badman who found it took more than a fast gun to carve an empire in the untamed Cimarron country."

It starts off  with Clay Allison making note of the large amount of money the owner of the cattle received when they finished up the drive in Santa Fe in 1866 and decides that raising and selling cattle makes a man more than herding them across the country- much more. He decides that working cattle on the Brazos is not for him and relocates to the Cimarron, New Mexico Territory, with his brother, John, to raise or buy and sell cattle on their own. He finds the Cimarron to be profitable, but has to fight the syndicate and the Santa Fe ring to protect his interests and he faces all comers with guns or fists or the Bowie knife and becomes known as the leader of the homesteaders and landowners who are battling to keep what they own. Life on the Cimarron is tough. One day Davy Crockett (not THE Davy Crockett, but a friend with the same name) stops to see him and tells Clay that a Jim Wilson is gunning for him, and Clay figures he has to settle this right away and goes looking form Mr. Wilson. But he ends up having a run-in with Melvin Mills, a lawyer, who isn't afraid of him while looking for Wilson. But Doctor Longwell sorts it out and Mills and Allison cool down and go their separate ways. Clay marries Dora McCullough and they live happily together. Clay gets mixed up in some vigilante business and is accused of killing a man named Cooper, but is freed because the prosecution couldn't prove that Cooper was dead. And things don't look too good in Cimarron with things changing and they decide to move back to Texas along the Pecos and continue their business. Allison is again the hard-nosed man he's always been and sets out to settle some personal business with a couple of his hands when his life come to an abrupt and unfortunate end.

This book was a First Printing of a Signet Book published in 1961 and kept me on the edge of my car seat as I read it at various times while waiting for the wife to shop or whatever. A fine, true story of "the man who became a legend in the bold West of his own time."     

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blogging Schedule

Will be back blogging before too long. Over the past couple of weeks my volunteer job has taken all my time. I had to cancel out of the Tucson Book Festival due to a quadruple by-pass, not me, but a close  family member. They are sending him home today and he says he is feeling a lot better. It's amazing what doctors can do these days.  Had a good day at a book sale in the parking lot of a church this morning.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Cassidy by Lee Nelson

This is a fictional bio of the notorious Butch Cassidy in 500 pages. The author says it would take 10,000 pages to write about everything in Cassidy's life, but I enjoyed reading only the 500. Lee Nelson is a fine writer and fills in the blanks by making up Cassidy's intro to the outlaw world and the stories of his bank and train robberies. Or were they made up? They sounded real to me and may have been. Mr. Nelson researched Cassidy for two years prior to writing the book, so I'm sure he gained insight in Cassidy's world to write a detailed story of his life and times.

The story takes him from a young kid growing up with the Parker family in Utah to his arrest for horse stealing that he didn't do and on to the Telluride bank holdup and then train robberies and tying up with the Sundance Kid and other outlaws like Harvey Logan. He falls in love with a young woman in Wyoming and she is mentioned several times in the book, but he is on the run and can't settle down with her. The author says he didn't find any evidence that Cassidy was killed  in  Bolivia, but goes on to relate his evidence that Cassidy returned to the U.S. I don't know, but Mr. Nelson makes a pretty convincing case and it agrees with The Wild Bunch at Robber's Roost that he did return to the U.S.

I found the story to be exciting, funny in places, and full of deetails of some of the many robberies committed by Butch and his friends.

This book was published by Council Press of Springville, Utah, in 1992. There are some mis-spelled words like "trial" for "trail", especially in the last quarter, but not enough to distract me from the enjoyment of reading the story..