Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Year Bites the Dust!

And it is time to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  May it be prosperous and productive for you!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian"

The full title of this novel is Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West. It was first printed in 1985, so it has been around a few years. The copy I have is the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition and I can't believe it has taken that long for me to discover it. On the front cover Michael Herr says "A classic American novel of regeneration through violence. McCarthy can only be compared with out greatest writers, with Melville and Faulkner, and this is his masterpiece." I'll take his word for it.

The story is about a runaway from Tennessee, who leaves home at the age of fourteen. The violence starts right here in the first chapter and doesn't end until the last. The kid becomes a member of  Captain Glanton's volunteers while in a Mexican jail and the murder and blood really picks up steam as Glanton gets contracts to kill the Apaches, which his gang does, and even some Mexicans are thrown in since no one will know the difference. Glanton has a warrant out on him from both the Texans and the Mexicans, but that doesn't stop him from murdering about anyone they see, including some innocent men, women, and children in the bloodthirsty search for Apaches or Mexican bandits or Mexican troops out on patrol. They go looking from deep in Mexico to the lower Arizona country for their victims. Reaching the Yuma area, they take over the Yuma ferry and charge whatever the traffic will bear to cross the Colorado into California or vice versa. Their killing continues until the Yuma Indians slaughter most of them. And in all the killing, hunger, desperation, and misery there is regeneration for  some of them after each battle until the Yuma Indians nearly wipe them out, and it doesn't end there..

Mr. McCarthy is a great writer with his extensive vocabulary and in the way he throws the words around and together, it makes for interesting reading. His descriptive writing is magnificent to me and the story moves right along. I will be reading some more of his books as time goes by. He reminds me of the early English and American writers who used a lot of words in their stories. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

A holly jolly hearty Merry Christmas to everyone! May your day be filled with fun, kids, entertainment, a hearty meal, and many presents!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Horsemen by Gary McCarthy

I haven't read anything by Gary McCarthy that I remember, but this book, The Horsemen, came in the box set that I am reading now. This is the first book in the Horsemen series and I felt like it had left me in the middle of the stream at the end of it. It begins at the Wildwood Horse Farm owned and run by the Ballou family in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. The horses are all Thoroughbreds and are bred and trained to race, but their life is severely disrupted with the war. And here comes a Captain Denton of the Confederate Army needing horses for the war effort.

Denton doesn't leave a very good impression with the Ballous even though one of the Ballou sons, Mason, is riding with him. Denton tells them they must let the horses go to help fight the war and two more of the Ballou boys, Rufus (Ruff) and Houston, go with him to deliver the Thoroughbreds, mostly pregnant mares. Ruff and Houston were supposed to oversee the horses and bring 'em back home, but Denton steals a stud and another one comes up missing. The hunt for these animals and keeping track of the others is almost an impossible job, and it gets them mixed up in fighting for their lives as they try to find the missing animals. Their adventures kept me on the edge of my seat, so to speak, right up to the end. The ending left me wondering what was going to happen next as they were at an Aunt's tobacco farm in Mississippi and were going to the Cherokee Nation to escape the desperadoes who were after them.

The story provided entertained aplenty, fun, and excitement and it's getting four stars from me.

Gary McCarthy is a Spur Award winner, too, and has many westerns under his belt.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chet Cunningham's Novel, Wade's War

Here is another one in the boxed set by Western Fictioneers Western Bestsellers: Wade's War by Chet Cunningham, the writer of many books, fiction and non-fiction.

Wade Tretter was only fourteen when both his parents were killed by Rebel raiders near the end of the Civil War in Missouri, and he makes it a life-long search to track down the four killers and bring them to justice one way or another.

I thought the story was exciting enough to complete the reading in a couple of sittings because I wanted to know what was coming next when he knew he was on the trail of the killers. It took him two or three years to earn his living, learn to shoot a .44 fast and accurately, and find that for which he was looking. The story picks up when he finally had enough hints to put him on the trail of one of the killers and goes from there on to the final result.

There are some twists and romance as he gathers up steam, and a few errors in the manuscript that didn't make sense to me, like getting the names of towns mixed up. All in all I think it earned a four-star rating in my book, for the excitement and action that the author puts Wade through while looking for the murderers.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Stillwater Smith, A Novel by Frank Roderus

Stillwater Smith is a type of story that I didn't think was ever going to reach the point of inevitability that most novels have. It is one of those that start out with more narrative than conversation and action. I was starting to get bored with it, but I couldn't stop reading about this man who had finally found a place where he could semi-retire you could say after the Civil War. But his peace and quiet was interrupted by a cattle baron wanting to use his water, since he controlled this stream that run through his property and on down to the valley. The cattleman needed it for the cattle he was bringing into the valley. And, further, there was the molestation or rape of a mentally deficient young girl that was a neighbor of Smith and fished with him on Sundays at his pond.

Stillwater Smith was an easy-going and peace-loving man, but events are working against him and the people of the town believe he is the one who molested the girl, because the guilty one had spread the rumor. Smith never went to town enough to hear the rumors, so he continued living his life as he always had. Smith and the cattleman couldn't seem to come to terms on the water and the cattle got into his oat field and was eating up the new crop. Smith was gradually building up his ire, especially when he caught the cattleman's nephew tearing his fence down to let the cattle into his field of oats. And he got beat up by a man and his two sons for the supposed atrocity he had committed against the girl. They called him a coward for not fighting back, and the cowboys used that to mock  and tease him.

Well all this narrative builds up to a rip-roaring end and when the dust settled, people had greater respect for Smith and let him alone to live his life the way he saw fit. The girl's mother becomes entangled in his life, too, and how does that turn out? You will just have to pick up a copy and give it a read. I give it a solid four stars.

Frank Roderus was a newspaperman in Colorado and has the honor of taking home two Spur awards from the Western Writers of America, according to his bio, and has written several westerns in addition to short stores, etc..