american west

True Grit

By Charles Portis
4
Rated by Helen H.
May 27, 2015

An instant best-seller when published in 1968, True Grit has also been made into film. Twice. These facts alone should recommend it, and I am here to back it up with a solid vote for a place on your nightstand.


Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross follows her slain father to Ft Smith, Arkansas to settle his affairs. While her mother expects her home, Mattie has other ideas. She hires a one-eyed, grizzled old US Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to hunt down the killer and bring him to justice.


Against Mattie’s wishes, Texas Ranger LeBoeuf joins Rooster Cogburn in the manhunt, and the two try to leave

Doc

By Mary Doria Russell
4
Rated by Helen H.
May 29, 2013

Before reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell, the only thing I knew about the famous Doc Holiday was that he looked remarkably like Val Kilmer and often suggested his peers might be Daisies. What a delight to read about this fascinating and complex gentleman. Russell tells Doc’s story from the very beginning; John Henry Holiday’s birth. His hold on life was tenuous from the start, as he was born with a hare-lip. Only because his uncle was a skilled surgeon, who performed the cutting-edge surgery, did Doc survive at all. His mother, to whom he was devoted, passed when he was fifteen of tuberculosis

Apr 12, 2013

Train Dreams is a weird little book. Only 116 pages but sweeping in scope, it tells the story of Robert Grainer, born in the late 1800s, orphaned and sent to live in the Pacific Northwest where he becomes an itinerant laborer, finds a wife and has a daughter, and experiences happiness so surreal it surely can’t last. It doesn’t. What remains of Grainer’s long life is a story distilled into only the most essential telling.

Author Denis Johnson combines humor with tragedy in such a way to make the poignancy of Train Dreams more tender than can be imagined. If you’re like me, you’ll want to ride

Dec 3, 2012

Before reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell, the only thing I knew about the famous Doc Holiday was that he looked remarkably like Val Kilmer and often suggested his peers might be Daisies. What a delight to read about this fascinating and complex gentleman.

Russell tells Doc’s story from the very beginning; John Henry Holiday’s birth. His hold on life was tenuous from the start, as he was born with a hare-lip. Only because his uncle was a skilled surgeon, who performed the cutting-edge surgery, did Doc survive at all. His mother, to whom he was devoted, passed when he was fifteen of

Jun 7, 2012

Robert B. Parker is mostly known for his crime fiction, but his final novel published before his 2010 death was the fourth in a series of terrific westerns.  Beginning with 2005’s Appaloosa, Parker’s richly detailed gunfighters Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch provide readers with a view of the American west, most easily associated with Clint Eastwood films.  Blue-eyed Devil  is no exception.  Returning to the town of Appaloosa, Cole and Hitch set up shop in the town they once run, finding it overrun by a corrupt law man by the name of Callico and his gang of “deputies”.  Cole and Hitch aren’t

Jun 16, 2010

farmersdaughter.jpgJim Harrison considers himself a poet first and a fiction writer second. Maybe that’s part of the reason his novels and novellas read so well: He has a poet’s gift for elevated language coupled with the heart of a storyteller.

Harrison is at his very best when writing novellas. “Legends of the Fall,” the film starring Brad Pitt and Aidan Quinn, was adapted from the novella of the same name, one of Harrison’s greatest stories.

Harrison’s new collection, “The Farmer’s Daughter,” follows his usual novella format; the book presents three stories of about a hundred pages each.

The main character