Thursday, January 12, 2012

DBB reads a Western!

Edward A. Grainger's Cash Laramie stories are full of mysterious origins, lawmen both upright and crooked, cowboys and Indians, and saloons with bat-wing doors.

But they're also hard-boiled crime stories, and why not?  What is Sam Spade but a lone wolf riding into town wearing a trench coat and a fedora?

The stories portray a West more fraught with racial conflict than I expected from Westerns, and they treat sex more frankly. At the same time, there is nothing jokingly or preciously revisionist or politically correct about them; they feel like old-time Westerns.

But they feel like crime stories, too. So, while Grainger pays tribute to such Western classics as The Searchers, "Maggie's Promise" gives chilling new meaning to the line "It was a wandering daughter job."

I'll read the first collection of Laramie/Miles stories next, and I'll be thinking about Westerns that might appeal to crime-fiction readers. Any suggestions?
© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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10 Comments:

Blogger Bill Crider said...

Westerns by Elmore Leonard, Donald Hamilton, and Bill Pronzini to start with.

January 12, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I had a feeling I might hear from you on this. Among crime writers, Steve Hockensmith and even Scott Phillips arguably write Westerns as well. And don't be too modest to att your own Sheriff Dan Rhoads books.

January 12, 2012  
Blogger Jerry House said...

Ed Gorman has written quite a few westerns that fit your bill.

January 12, 2012  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Westerns that might appeal to crime-fiction readers. Any suggestions?

This subject comes up from time-to-time over at RARA-AVIS. You might want to take a look. Always good suggestions for off-the-beaten-path reading.

As much as I like movie Westerns, I'm a bit surprised at myself for not having read many Westerns beyond some of Louis L'Amour's best-known novels.

If you want to supplement your reading with viewing, I can recommend the 1950s Westerns directed by Anthony Mann, director of the classic films noirs, "He Walked by Night," and "Raw Deal," both 1948. One of his best Westerns is "The Furies," 1950, starring a very ballsy Barbara Stanwyck. Talk about "empowered" women!

The pre-Anthony Mann Westerns era "Blood on the Moon," also 1948, directed by Robert Wise and starring Robert Mitchum, is a fine "Western noir." Evocatively photographed.

Of course, you can always "seek consolation in scripture, and... open those books from which everything that followed derives" and re-read Hammett's Westerns, "The Man Who Killed Dan Odams" and/or "Corkscrew."

January 12, 2012  
Blogger Ray Banks said...

The Hombre from Sonora (or The Difference) by Charles Willeford?

January 13, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jerry: I know Ed Gorman through his blog and through an occasional story that willc rop up in anthologies. I didn't know he wrote Westerns. He writes dark but with a heart, so yes, I'd say his Westerns might fit my bill Thanks.

January 13, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth: I can picture Barbara Stanwyck's lip curling into a sneer at anyone who called her tough characters "empowered."

Grainger (whose real name is David Cramner) has a character in one story say, "That'll be the day." That's a nod to The Searchers, of course. I don't know my Westerns all that well; I wonder how many other, similar tributes he incorporates.

January 13, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Ray. Willeford is another guy I never knew had written Westerns. He adopted a nice Western-sounding name under which to do so, as well.

January 13, 2012  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

Read your posts in the wrong order! This is what I need!

January 14, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, you mean you need a list of recommendations? I'm guessing that, like me, you're looking for Westerns that might appeal to crime fiction readers as well. The connection between the two genres might seem odd these days, but it's old and honorable, and it's nice to see contemporary authors reviving it.

January 14, 2012  

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