Translate

Sunday, July 17, 2016

More Short Stories

Continuing with The Mammoth Book of Westerns, here are more stories:

Hamlin Garland won the Pulitzer Prize with Daughter of the Middle Border after he wrote Son of the Middle Border, his autobiographical books. I read Son of the Middle Border and thought it was interesting, but never got around to the other one. His short story in The Mammoth Book of Westerns is a portrayal of a destitute farmer who leaves his farm in Kansas broke andcould no longer grind out a living from the land. After a long day's travel in the wagon with wife and kids, he stops at a farmhouse to see if they could stay for the night. They are all hungry and sleepy after being turned down at other places, but Stephen Council takes them in with no strings attached.

After he hears the farmer's (Haskins) story he lets them stay and tells them about a farm nearby that is available from a local dealer in land who would let him have it at a reasonable price since it is in a rundown condition. They make a deal and the Haskins family moves into their new home. In two or three years - well, I won't tell you the whole story, but there is an interesting turn of events. There were many families in the position of the Haskins in that time period whose stories were never told, and Garland did a fine job on this one.

Zane Grey has a story in there, too, titled The Ranger, which I reviewed a couple of month's ago. I thought it was a good short story and enjoyed reading it.

Another novel I started in high school sixty-five or seventy years ago was The Virginian and I still haven't finished it. The author, Owen Wister, is said to have written the first traditional western in that story. Maybe I'll finish it one of these days, if I can find it. Anyway, At the Sign of the Last Chance is a short story by Wister that was reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Westerns, and it is a good one to my way of thinking. A man returns to this town after many years to find his old friends playing poker in the The Last Chance saloon. His friends look older and grayer than he remembered them, but it could be the same poker game still going on. The "boys" are reminiscing, talking about the cowboys they used to know like the Toothpick Kid and Buck, Chet, Duke.and Doc Barker. In the back where all the old magazines are piled up, a man is reading a story about the English naming their bars with two names like the Swan and Harp. Every once in a while, he would call out a name and ask the others what they thought about it. And they would make comments and continue gossiping about this and that. It got to be downright funny as I read. It was a very entertaining piece, and I would have finished The Virginian if it was more like this story.

Wine on the Desert by Max Brand was also an entertaining story about a man who is running from the law and stops in to see his old friend who has a small winery. This story turned out to be different than I thought, as the outlaw destroys the winery and ends up in dire straits.

There is a story by Conrad Richter titled Early Americana which is not an essay but a story of buffalo hunters on the Staked Plains and the families who live in or near the small town of Carnuel, a hide shipping point. And it is a story about Indians, too. A young man wants to become a buffalo hunter, but his plans are interrupted by a raid of the Kiowas and he falls in love with a girl that he never hardly noticed before. Not much dialogue to begin with, but turns into an exciting adventure before it is over. I liked this one, too, but I had Conrad Richter mixed up with the fellow who writes sea stories, Joseph Conrad, since I had never read anything by either one. Richter is a fine writer of westerns. Joseph Conrad wrote Lord Jim and others.

8 comments:

  1. Gotta say I'm not the biggest fan of Owen Wister's classic. Have read it twice over the years and recognize it as a classic but one that I don't enjoy all that much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I actually liked The Virginian pretty well. Not outstanding but a decent read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. About everyone agrees it's a classic.

      Delete
  3. I like the sound of the story with the English pub names.

    Our wedding reception was in the Still and West - a not very interesting but almost relevant fact.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder what the cowboys' comments would have been about the Still and West. Sounds like a nice quiet place.

      Delete
  4. I started the Virginian a half dozen times finally made it through about 10 years ago and read it again last year. Pretty old and stiff writing for me. I have read other stuff of his and am not a big fan. Not a big Zane Grey fan either, maybe I just don't like western writers from that time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well, maybe not Neil, but some of the writers like B. M. BOWER were pretty good.

    ReplyDelete