Western! Though I have capitalized on my ignorance several times before, I
really, really do know nothing about the Western. Unlike the romance, the
mystery, science fiction and fantasy, I have never, ever read even a line
from a Western. I know the stuff has its place, but I've never known a subject
that interests me less. Maybe I'm a snob. Well, yes, that's it. I am a snob.
But here's one thing I do know:
This may actually be the original pulp fiction - without the noir, of course.
Originally meant to be an accounting of the actual activities of mountain
men, outlaws, pioneers, settlers, and other tobacco chewers, Western fiction
began its publishing life as mid-nineteenth century dime novel, confining
these "real" stories to those accountings happening in Western states from
1860 to about 1900.
The emergence of pulp magazines,
which also helped forward the mystery and science fiction, created a market
for the Western as well, particularly in the early 20th century when a means
for escape came in handier than we can imagine today. Life was much harder
then, of course; tales of those who made do - and then some - couldn't help
but be popular among the enterprising, pioneering and most of all, dog-tired
After this, my words are lacking,
partly because readership of the Western has fallen so low, Jerry Bruckheimer
won't even adapt a very violent one. Thanks to Wikipedia
I can at least list some of the classic Western authors for you, who've
written works I've at least heard of: Owen Wister, author of The Virginian;
Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage, The Way West by AB
Guthrie and Shane, by Jack Schaefer. Of course the dominant figure
here is Louis L'Amour and, admittedly, were I to sally forth into the
Western world, I would pick L'Amour up first, if only because I don't
know what I'm doing.
It is here, dear readers, that
I ask for guidance. Help me flesh out this Western stuff a bit. Thanks. -ed.