Reading True Grit led me to ponder other novels of the
Western genre that I have enjoyed. And I suppose I should include McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. But I have to say, it’s distinctly lacking in humor. Given that its two protagonists are teenage boys on an adventurous journey across the Rio Grande into Mexico in 1949, you would expect some chuckles. The two horsemen pick up a sidekick--a laughable but deadly marksman named Jimmy Blevins-- on their way south and finally arrive at a hacienda just this side of paradise where one
In thinking about novels of the West, you have to think James Michener's Centennial. And thinking of Centennial, the words "sprawling" and "epic" come to mind. Go ahead and name a trope of the old West and Centennial's got it: Native Americans,
Speaking of sprawling, epic novels, Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove falls into that category as well. Set in the late nineteenth century, it tells the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, but its themes reach for so much more.
You probably can't talk about Western novels without talking about Jack Shaefer's Shane. It takes the classic story starter, "a stranger comes to town," and raises it to the next level. The stranger who rides out of the heart of the great glowing West, into the small Wyoming valley in the summer of 1889 is Shane. He becomes a friend and guardian to the Starrett
Other Westerns of note: My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, and Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter. All this Western talk makes me want to get my boots on and saddle up!!