Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who Likes a Good Western?

I have a stack of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour books, and once in awhile the urge hits me to read these old stories. Now, a few folks have lambasted L'Amour (and others) over a few things. I quote a Goodreads review:

He uses Indians simultaneously as "noble warriors" and "bloodthirsty savages" and justifies the take over of their land with the old "their time was passing..." illogical--as if there wasn't an agent behind their passing.
Reading one of his novels, one gets the feeling he never did any research required of historical novels. Details are always vague. Little reference is made to historical events, ways of doing things, or period details that would lend credence to his imaginings. His stories could just as easily been set on Mars for all the research that shows through his writing. But Americans are already disposed to believing all this romantic Old West bullshit, so you don't have to try very hard.
When a writer taps into our national myths, they don't have to be accurate or true, because most of our national myths are lies already believed
-- Ryan Mishap

Some strong words, there, and it really makes me think when I puck up a Grey or L'Amour book.

However, there is still something about westerns that captures me. It's the wide open spaces, the tiny little towns that somehow cling to life in the rugged country, and men who stand up for the little guy. Granted, there are many stereotypes and cliches that fill these stories, but the old west still has its appeal.

Who else likes to read westerns?