Saturday, 31 January 2009
NEW STORY ON
Next on Tainted Archive
Interview with Megan Abbott
MORE WILD WEST NEWS
The western is gathering steam and making its online presence felt. The Archive fully supports SHORT BARREL FICTION. The blog run by the handsome fellow pictured, who goes by the online handle GnuBill, is dedicated to short western fiction and such like.
The blog was launched this week and the first story is by E E Tibbs and is titled the Reluctant Lawman. The Archive would like to welcome Gnubill to the online community of blogging western fans.
Lance Howard's excellent new Black Horse Title - Coyote Deadly is now available on Amazon, at libraries and in book stores and other online sellers. I recently read a early draft of the book and I must say it is up there with Howard's usual high standards. It's an excellent read from start to finish.
The blurb: When the Chulo brothers sweep into the town of Thanody, a town that has sworn off violence, all hell breaks loose.And when Marshal James Tredder calls in an old friend and manhunter Josh Dellin to track down the vicious killers known as the Prairie Wolves the West runs scarlet with blood.Within hours Josh find himself forced to confront a powerful land owner bent on covering up his sons' brutal raids and struggling to protect the life of a beautiful young woman who's the only witness to their foul deeds.
UK western fans should be rushing to the stores on Monday when Appaloosa is released on DVD. The movie, based on the Robert B. Parker book of the same name has recieved strong reviews but only got a limited UK cinema release.
Expect a review in the Archive next week.
WILD WEST MONDAY - COUNT DOWN......2ND MARCH 2009
Friday, 30 January 2009
LAST STAND AT SABRE RIVER - ELMORE LEONARD
Last Stand at Sabre River
Harper Torch Western
originally published 1959
Elmore Leonard is best known these days for his excellent crime novels but years before he became the king of crime he was a master of the western. And this book is well up to his usual high standard.
Paul Cable rides into Arizona with his wife and children after being discharged from the Confederate army. However in his absence two brothers have taken over his house and land and they seem to think they have a right to it. But Cable is not the sort of man to give up without a fight.
The westerns are written in the same style as the author's crime classics - long stretches of dialogue that carry the story forward and real multi-layered characters. It's never a simple case of good guys and bad guys with Leonard and it makes for a far deeper story. There are shades of grey aplenty here just as there are in real life...just as there was in the real Old West.
Of course Leonard's unique talent is in creating low life characters that are so real the reader can hear their speech patterns and feels genuine revulsion and fear when they take center stage. And in Leonard's West there are plenty of low life sons of bitches.
Last stand at Sabre River is a quality western that will delight newcomers and long time fans of the genre alike.
PREMIO DARDOS AWARD
And it's been kindly given to the TAINTED ARCHIVE.
I'm getting my red dress out and polishing my acceptance speech.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
MAKE MY DAY, PUNK - once more with feeling.
Full details can be read HERE
That's got to be the most Chicken Oriental idea I've heard in some time - Mind you, I felt the same about The Evil Dead Musical but that's quite good fun. And odd though it may seem a musical Dirty Harry would attract a cult audience.
I pity the songwriter who has to come up with songs based along the famous signature lines.
So here's my go:
Sung to the tune of the Rolling Stones Get Off my Cloud
- Hey hey, you you - get off'a my lawn.
Others titles could be Happiness is a warm Magnum or I wish I was Harry's girl.
Anyone else got any suggestions.
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Wild West News
Good news for fans of Black Horse Westerns. Those all action traditional westerns published by Robert Hale Ltd.
And it's a double whammy.
Firstly, a reliable source, has informed me that the standard print run for individual titles is to be increased since lately more and more books have been selling out in a matter of days.
Details of how large a print run have not been supplied but this is good news.
Also for readers in the US - several of whom have mentioned how difficult it is to get the books in the US, we have been informed that the US distributor is -
Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Readers should contact them and they should be able to help in supplying any titles needed. Likewise libraries should be able to order via the company.
Wild West Monday coming 2nd March 2009
The image below comes from Chaps O'Keefe and he claims it's Jack Martin and his gang rounding up more folk to go and support Wild West Monday. I guess that means that's Jack Giles with the Colt.
And if you're in a western mood there's a great website here that list all those old TV WESTERNS OF THE 50'S.
The site contains detailed lists, some great images and reams of, "Well, I never knew that!" trivia.
BLACK HORSE WESTERN PROMOTION
The Archive has several Black Horse Westerns (ex-library editions) to give away as samples for anyone wanting to check the books out. Details will be given on Wild West Monday - that's the second March, folks.
All round action woman - Celia Hayes interview
Celia Hayes's books will be of interest to western fans - although they are not strictly westerns but historical sagas set in the Old West. Hang on, Maybe they are westerns after all.
Though certainly not of the shoot em up, good guys, bad guys variety. But then the western is a genre flexible enough to incorporate all kinds of writing.
Celia has lived a life of adventure that would put most western characters to shame- a military veteran she now described herself as a a gardener and storyteller.
"I served in the US Air Force from 1977 to 1997, as a radio/television broadcast specialist – mostly overseas, in places like Japan, Korea, Greece, Spain and Greenland. That’s where there generally was no English-language television and radio programming, until cable stations like the Star Channel began international service. So, I wound up doing all sorts of interesting and amazing things – I was the midnight rock and roll DJ at our station in Greece, for example, and the TV newscaster for the 6PM news broadcast in Japan. I think I’ve been lost in every major city between Portugal and the then-Iron curtain, I know how to say ‘excuse me’ and ‘I’ll have a pound of that’ and ‘take me to the American base’ in about eight languages. I drove across Europe alone with a small child, at the wheel of a bright orange Volvo sedan. We took six weeks at it, and my poor daughter got dragged through every museum and historical site we came across. We went camping all over Spain, and when I was in Korea I had an outside job copy-editing and voicing English-language educational videos. It was a very small career field, military broadcasting; after a time, everyone knew everyone else in it. For about three years, I was the only woman at once assignment, and so every time they needed a female voice for a spot, I had to do it. If I hadn’t been me, I’d have been sick to death of the sound of my own voice!"
Quite a full life by anyone's standards - but when did Celia decide she wanted to write?
"Quite early on – at about the age of 12. I loved books and stories, and so I began creating further adventures of my favorite book people. Fan-fiction, basically. I grew out of it early on, and began creating original stuff, though."
And it is the original stuff that has given Celia her success. But before the finished book comes all the hard work. So what are Celia's writing practices?
Oh, start at the beginning – with the research. For the Adelsverein Trilogy, I put all my notes into an excel spread-sheet, which is broken out by year and month, and into about twenty different categories. The story covered fifty years, three interlinked families, five different small towns or cities, four romantic couples, three wars … and the cattle business in post-Civil War Texas. From that, I worked out the chapter outline, which was pretty general – just a rough outline of what was supposed to happen. Most of the rest just happens, when I actually sit down to put in the conversation, and the descriptions! And sometimes the characters and events take off on their own. Otherwise, I try to make the chapters 6,000-7,000 words, but if it went longer, then I could break it into two chapters. When I actually start going, I can do about two chapters a week, working at it for the whole day. I did the draft of my first novel, Truckee’s Trail in about two months flat."
Celia obviously has a love for American history and of the West in particular. So what is it that compells her to write about the West?
"Not sure about that, really – I was just drawn to it. Why do you fall in love? You just do! I’ve always loved history, and my mother had a subscription to American Heritage, when I was growing up. This was when it was a fairly serious and scholarly publication, about all sorts of interesting events. But I had always loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, and reading about adventures on the emigrant trails – covered wagons and all that. Why I am particularly attracted to the 19th century? I think that is because it was absolutely key in developing what we think of as our national character, for better or worse, and because so much changed for us during the course of it. Think on it – in 1801, the United States was a relatively poor, struggling little nation, just barely filling up the area between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachians. The way that everyone lived looked back more to the previous century, people lived by candle-light, they never went farther from where they lived – and they mostly lived on small farms – than the nearest town. Goods and people traveled on horse-drawn wagons, or on ships powered by wind. And by 1899 – good heavens! The United States went from sea to sea! There were electric lights, and factories making everything that once had been made by hand; you could travel by the railway, or steamship, send a telegraph or use a telephone. And it was possible for someone to seen all of this during their lifetime! The 19th century and the western frontier made us; and I find it irresistible to write about. "
Writing, as every author knows, can be a lonely business and it's often difficult to find anyone qualified to give advice. These days with online forums, writers groups things are easier and the various author's organisations can also be a boon for both legal and creative information. Celia is a founding member of the Independent Author's Guild. What are her duties?'
"Oh my – it’s a volunteer collaborative organization, so it’s whatever I feel like doing and what I think needs to be done at the moment. I built the website, and keep it updated, and take part in the discussion groups. Every once in a while, I gently steer the other participants back to the subject and remind them of the aims of the group. For those who haven’t heard of it, the Independent Authors’ Guild is a group of authors who have published through tiny regional presses, or through POD firms, who clubbed together to share strategies and suggestions for marketing our books. We do a semi-monthly newsletter, help promote each others books, pass on tips about where to get reviewed, or edited. Two aims – help each other write the very best books that we can, and to support each other in getting them out there to a wider audience. I’ve been helped enormously by other members, who provided me with editing, blurbs and reviews – and even one of the other members, Al Past let me use some of his fantastic pictures for my covers. Another member, Mike Katz, has a micro-publishing house Strider-Nolan; not only did he edit Books 2 and 3, but he provided technical advice about weapons handling, gave me the ISBNs and let me market the books under the aegis of Strider-Nolan. Mike has his very own western adventure: serio-comic adventure about a Jewish railway detective, investigating a train robbery in the Old West called “Shalom on the Range”. It’s hilarious, by the way."
The aforementioned Adelsverein Trilogy is a saga about German settlers in the old West. Is Celia happy for these to be thought of as westerns?
"Whatever works! I started off trying to find a publisher for my first novel, “To Truckee’s Trail” – which is one of the great unknown adventures of the California trail – and damned if just about every agent and publisher I tried to interest in it had that snotty “Oh, we don’t do westerns!” Me, feebly protesting, “No, it’s not really a western, it’s a historical adventure set on the American frontier!” did not butter any parsnips. So with the next book project, which became The Adelsverein Trilogy, I decided – what the hell, embrace it! If a story set on the American frontier is a western, than that’s where I’ll take it."
The books are very heavily researched. What form did this research take?
"Oh yes, very heavily researched. One of my marketing strategies is to have them so accurate, that I can appeal to museums and historical societies: ‘Why yes, my story has lashings of drama, but it’s historically accurate down to the nth degree, and wouldn’t you like to stock it in your museum store so as to give people a good idea of what it was really like, back then?’ I actually start with the research; basically plunging into every book that I can lay hands on which is relevant to the topic. In the case of ‘Truckee’ I actually had a lot of the books on my shelves already. For ‘Adelsverein’ I had to practically camp at my local library. I think I read just about every book that I could get from them, regarding the German settlements in Texas. And there turned out to be quite a lot of them; a lot of local history enthusiasts had done biographies of ancestors, saved letters and memoirs and the like. There is just stacks and stacks of materiel there. And as I read, there were things that I just kept circling back to, incidents, elements and accidents and people who just grabbed my attention. These were the things that I just kept thinking ‘Ah-ha! I’ve got to work that in, somehow or other!’ For ‘Adelsverein’ it was the Goliad Massacre, the Civil War era hanging band, and white children kidnapped by Indian raiders, and people like Jack Hayes and Sam Houston – among a long list! By the time I finish the first couple of stacks of books, I have a nice long list of elements that I simply must include, and so then I work out a plot to incorporate them – that’s where the spreadsheet comes in!"
What future projects would Celia like to make Archive readers aware of?
"The next project is another trilogy – loosely linked to the Adeslverein Trilogy, but a separate set of adventures by some of the peripheral characters. One will be set in pre-independent and Republic-era Texas. The second will be a picaresque adventure in the California Gold Rush – I’ve always wanted to write one of those! The people involved were such an eccentric lot, and the Gold Rush in California was so incredible! One of the characters in that will be a wandering Irish Fenian, a slippery character who calls himself Polidore O’Malley. And the third is still pretty vague at present, but will involve vigilantes and range-wars, and the crash of the cattle industry in the mid-1880s. That was another rather interesting time, when a lot of hopeful foreign investors and adventurers were getting involved in American cattle ranches. Look for that in about three years, as I am just now getting started on the first book of it!"
And finally with Wild West Monday fast approaching - March 2nd. I ask Celia what she plans to do for the day?
"Depends on if I have my next royalty check in hand! Otherwise, I shall be stony broke! I think I will go with ordering some of the classics, Zane Grey and that sort of thing."
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
TWO SENTENCE TUESDAY
"Samual Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down - from high flat temples-in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan."
I love that sentence - it's all description but the punch line makes it so emotive. After that description you know this guy could be nasty.
My own sentence below is from a short story I am currently working on and hope to offer to a webzine.
It's a very dark piece by my standards.
"Of Course he knew that killing and then consuming one's wife was frowned upon in polite society; indeed in the eyes of the law it was positively forbidden and could bring grave consequences. But all the same, he thought of maybe adding a little seasoning, as he chomped down on another finger."
Monday, 26 January 2009
Marvel's Civil War
Now I'm not a regular comic book reader but I had heard a lot about this reconstruction of the Marvel universe when it took place a couple of years ago.
I picked up the information from the Around Comics podcast which I still listen to. It's a great forum based show that is both amusing and informative. I'd promised myself that I'd catch up o the story one day.
Now I know these multi-book crossover storylines are really a marketing ploy but this story which is set in post 911 American sounded enticing.
The story kicks off in Avengers Unconquered issue 1, which is a repackaging of Avengers united (another marketing ploy). Still it's a 100 page issue and I do love these UK editions. They are better constructed than the US originals - in that they come with a soft card binding and the quality of printing is excellent. Course they'll never have the collectors value of the US originals but they are excellent for archiving.
I intend to follow this entire story arc, across however many different books, simply because I was so impressed by this issue.
The story starts with a group of heroes, created for a super hero reality TV show - anyway things get out of hand when one super villain effectively turns himself into a nuclear bomb and explodes himself.
What follows is the new America sick of costumed freaks doing more harm than good. And there is even talk of banning the costumed crime fighters - in the end it is made law that all costumed heroes must sign a disclosure of powers and identity and then take a wage and work for the government.
Captain America is the first rebel and he soon finds himself not only at war with heroes who had once been allies but with the country he loves. And he's not the only one as others are forced to take sides.
Almost every major character in the Marvel universe takes part in the storyline. The illustration on the left features all the characters involved in the war.
The artwork is moody and the writing generates an intense feeling of paranoia. This is a story with genuine depth and relevance to the real world.
...a world that could do with one or two super heroes.
But besides all that - many years ago me and my mates always used to wonder what would happen if hero x met hero y. Now Marvel are answering that boyhood fantasy.
This issue features the issues Civil War 1 , Disassembled 1
The storyline then continues in other books on sale this month.
It's hard not to be cynical of these multi comic book storylines but when the quality of story and art is up to this standard that fact becomes acedemic. This is high quality storytelling with truly adult themes presented in the fantastical and much loved comic book super hero universe.
Sunday, 25 January 2009
Son of a Yondering Man - Beau L'amour talks about his father's lagacy
More than 300 million copies of his books in print. The only author ever to be awarded both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Freedom. Louis L’amour stands head and shoulders above every other western author in terms of both sales and acclaim.
He is the benchmark by which all other western authors measure themselves.
He is the western writer’s writer.
The Tainted Archive talks to Beau L’amour about his father’s amazing legacy which continues to entertain readers and will do so, no doubt, for as long as books are read.
NOTE QUOTES IN BOLD are from Louis L’amour himself. I have used these, with permission, from an entertaining video on the official website. To see the full video click HERE.
In many way Louis L’amour’s name recognition with western fans is equal with say that of John Wayne. I wonder at what age did Beau become aware that his father was this legend
“We lived in Hollywood where any writer is a fairly minor player. Until I was in my early teens our income was pretty modest and Dad was only recognized by certain groups. I would argue that his name recognition is still way below Wayne's. In many of the areas we travelled and with many of the people we socialized with westerns were not considered special or important. Dad was known for being an interesting guy in a lot of ways and to a lot of people ... I've always thought that his work was almost the least of him. He was an amazing individual and in social gatherings his personality, life experiences, and wisdom on many subjects was more valued than his writings or what eventually became fame.”
When Louis L’amour first put pen to paper the days of the Old West were not that far away – in fact, in many ways the young writer touched the period. What stories did he tell that may not have seen their way into print?
“This would be too long to tell and I wouldn't do as good a job as the man himself. There is a 30 minute interview at the end of our latest Audio Drama, Son of a Wanted Man, that is all about the different western characters that Louis knew in his youth. In my opinion the so-called accuracy of Louis's novels is not nearly as important as the fact that he actually touched the time period he wrote about ... the people he knew and the places he lived prepared him as well as any research.”
“My great grandfather was killed by Indians a
nd scalped. And my grandfather fought Indians. I grew up being told stories like that.”
Louis L’amour had a reputation as a wondering man. I wonder, did his itchy feet ever leave him?
“He settled pretty firmly in Los Angeles 1946, living there until he died in 1988. He never had a driver's license so he was trapped in town unless he could recruit a friend, my mother, or me. To a certain extent he did this on purpose, to impose discipline so he would work. You can't write 89 novels and more than 300 short stories if your doing too much wandering around!”
“I like to spend time in the mountains. In the really wild country – mountains or desert.”
Louis L’amour’s early life was as rough and rowdy as that experienced by any of his characters. He was, for instance, quite an accomplished boxer. What other stories are there of his adventures?
“Probably the most fun way to experience that answer would be to visit http://www.louislamourgreatadventure.com/LouisStories01.htm
A section of our nearly finished Adventure Stories site that covers some of louis's personal adventures and contains pictures and artifacts from his life.”
“I used to do some boxing. Every town had a fella thought he was a fighter. I fought fifty fights and I lost five – thirty four knock outs. I never lost a fight when I was eating regularly.”
People like myself are huge L’amour fans and would love to know what your father was like in everyday life? Was he always wandering around looking for ideas?
“Rarely, though he loved to do just that. He knew that most good idea
s don't come to you when you search for them but during the execution of other pieces of work. He tended to sit in his office (at first a small one then later a much bigger one) in our house and write. Usually a couple of hours before breakfast, then 'til lunch. Then he'd eat, exercise for an hour or two and either write or read up to dinner time. After dinner he might write for another few hours. Time in the wilderness was just once or twice a year and only for a few weeks total, if that. Dad didn't make enough mon
ey until the very end of his career (when he was in his 70s) to relax much. We had a comfortable middle class lifestyle as long as he wrote 3 to 4 books a year. It was only after all the books had been selling a long time that the financial situation got much better. This was typical of everybody writing paperback originals in that era. The advances were quite low and so were the royalties ... it was only if your books stayed in print that you made any real money.”
Are there any unfinished manuscripts that could one day see the light of day? Will any other writer be working one day on unfinished works?
“There were plenty, we've published them in the last many short story collections but no further stories that seemed to have had a particular ending indicated by Louis that I could finish or polish. My rule of thumb was always to do the least that I possibly could. First, I would try to cut a story into publishable condition with no additional writing, then I would sometimes write "bridging material" if the cuts were too severe. Occasionally, I'd do more, "modernizing" some stories (removing some of the political incorrectness from the narration ... but rarely the dialogue ... hey, that's how people talked!), clearing up cluttered plots and strengthening characters. Dad and I were a good team, he didn't like rewriting and I love it. Only once did I "write" nearly a whole story, the novella The Diamond of Jeru (which I also turned into a movie and now a Dramatized Audio production ... exhausting ALL the possib
ilities!) and that was because the book was looking like it was not going to be under length so creating a 80 page novella from a really rough draft of a short short story was called for to bulk up the book.
There are quite a few unfinished stories documented at http://www.louislamourslosttreasures.com/
but none of which did I feel comfortable finishing because the end of the story trajectory was indicated ... probably why Louis never finished them. The site also contains finished work, notes, and correspondence. The site will have three sections, one is already finished and one partly done.”
Removing political incorrectness from the original scripts. There are those that would say that is sacrilege. Was this decision the publishers or yours?
“My decision. Louis was one of the most open and unprejudiced people I've ever run into but different times have different vocabularies. So my decision, mostly on the Crime and Adventure stories, was to alter the narrator voice but very, very rarely, the dialogue. So the characters speak in era specific vernacular but the narrator has a more universal voice, which is appropriate to the concept of a third person narrator.”
“I always wanted to be a writer but it’s tough getting started because there’s nowhere to begin. As soon as you start trying to sell stories you are competing with the best people who sell stories. So you’ve got to be good from the start.”
Looking after the backlist of books, every one of which is still in print must take some doing. So is this a full time job?
“Relatively full time. I occasionally work in the film industry and often write and direct our audio dramas but the main effort are the books. Today that is a completely backlist operations but until the early 2000s we had a new book every year.”
If Louis L’amour were around today and working would be still be producing westerns?
“Some certainly but he really enjoyed writing books like The Walking Drum and was looking forward to more work in the Science Fiction genre, like The Haunted Mesa.”
Thanks for Beau L’amour for taking the time to answer these questions.
Louis L’amour on the web:
This interview is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Louis L'amour.
BLACK HORSE WESTERNS/HALE INTERVIEW
Wanted to bring this to everyone's attention.
Over on Steve M's wonderful Western Fiction Review is an interview with Helen Ogden who is in charge of publicity with the Black Horse Western range of westerns.
It's nice to see that Helen is so receptive to the western genre and is determined not go with the status quo.
Please everyone leave a comment on Steve's blog so that the Hale publicity people can see how popular the western is.
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Archive interviews coming up
Early next week I will post the long awaited interview with Beau L'amour in which we talk about his father's rich legacy. There' some interesting answers in this interview and some L'amour details that even established fans will find new and fresh.
Then we've got western writer Celia Hayes towards the end of the week. And all being well next weekend or the start of the following week should see a piece with noir mistress Megan Abbott.
And after that The Tainted Archive will be gearing up for the next Wild West Monday on March 2nd with almost a month of western based posts leading up to the big day when we all saddle up and hit those shops and libraries asking for more western fiction.
So any western authors, western fans or anyone related to the genre in any way if you fancy being interviewed as part of the Wild West Monday initiative then please email me and we'll go from there.
TIE-IN NOVELS and some NEWS
Couldn't resist bidding for these four books on Ebay - got them for £2 and the same amount postage which is a bargain as they are quite rare.
The first title The War Wagon by Clair Huffaker is a tie-in version of the novel, originally published under the title, Badman in 1957 - that original novel was in turn an expanded version of a short story, Holdup at Stony Flat which was originally published in Ranch Romances. This one is in very good condtion and the Kirk Douglas, John Wayne cover art done by - well the artist isn't credited in the book so I guess the name's lost to time.
Second in the lot is The Commancheros, Pual I Wellman's 1954 novel which was the basis for the 1962 western of the same name. This time there's a photographic cover image from the movie. This version was published by Corgi Books and boasts the cover price of 2/6.
" 2/6 there was a time when you could take a girl to the pictures for 2/6 and still have enough for bus fair home and a bag of scrumps from the chippie."
The next two titles are novelisations by Brian Fox which is a pen name and the author is also credited on the inside jackets with writing several of the Dollar novel spin offs. Who was Brian Fox? Was he one author or many working under the same name?
I'm banking on Chap O'Keefe knowing this and posting the answer in the comments section. If not Terry Harknett are you reading? Do you know?
The titles are Sabata which was an italian western starring Lee Van Cleef and the second is The Wild Bunch which truly was a classic western. These books have the cover price of 25p. Sabata has a photographic cover while the Wild Bunch boasts artwork, again uncredited, with a Gatling gun spewing death out of the book straight into the face of the reader.
I found this info on the excellent GUNS IN THE GUTTER blog which is run by Christopher Mills - the E-justice blog have just listed their top 50 detective based blogs which makes for some interesting reading. Next to westerns the hardboiled detective stuff is a fave with the Archive so this list is bound to have me checking blogs for weeks to come.
Also thanks to Guns in the Gutter is this image from the forthcoming series of graphic novels based on Richard Stark's Parker series - the hardest bastard in crime fiction is coming to the graphic medium.
Now that I'm looking forward to.
Friday, 23 January 2009
WESTERN ICONS - THE DUKE
'Get off your horse and drink your milk.' My father always used to say that to me in his best John Wayne voice.I think it's a paraphrase from The Cowboys.
There are a great many actors who I think were better than John Wayne but I can think of only a few that I love without reservation - Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewert and John Wayne.
As a man Wayne was often vilified for his politics but as an actor he was America, or specifically frontier America.
Some of his performance were clunky but think of all the seamless classics he's been a part of, most of them as the lead.
RED RIVER, THE SEARCHERS, THE QUIET MAN, THE SHOOTIST, TRUE GRIT, FORT APACHE, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, RIO BRAVO, RIO GRANDE, HONDO, SANDS OF IWO JIMA, SON'S OF KATIE ELDER, STAGECOACH - the list could go on and on......the thing with Wayne is that even his lesser movies are watchable.
Wayne was also the first singing cowboy - he may have been dubbed but he made several B movies as a signing cowboy. The hilarious video below shows him as Singing Sandy.
The Searchers is for many people, myself included, the best western ever. And even doubters would have to admit WAYNE's performance as the racist Ethan Edwards is a wonderful highly nuanced piece of acting. He should have got the Oscar for this and this oversight was probably the reason Wayne eventually got the award for True Grit.
True Grit is a great movie but hardly the classic The Searchers is - Red River also contains a similarly brilliant performance as does Wayne's part in the feel good classic, The Quiet Man.
Perhaps the only other western actor that comes close is Clint Eastwood.
So next time there's a John Wayne movie playing settle back and watch a true American icon at work.
Now - 'Get off your horse and drink your milk.'
This Post is Dedicated to The Duke - loved by generations.
FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN BOOKS
CONCEPT - Pattie Abbott - check our her wonderful blog for more Forgotten Books.
Bantem £5.99 UK
I'm not sure if any L'amour book is really forgotten, they're all still in print, but I'm including this post in The Forgotten Books series because some folk, particularly those new to the western may enjoy reading about it.
James T. Kettleman became a legend in the West at the age of seventeen when he gunned down several men who had just shot his friend, Flint. After that incident the boy escaped to New York and became a successful businessman.
Now many years later Kettleman is dying from an incurable cancer but he does not want to die here in New York, with a loveless wife by his side and so, for the second time in his life, he vanishes. He knows he must die but he wants this to to be his own terms - incidentally this predates the John Wayne movie The Shootist by more than fifteen years.
Heading West Kettleman goes to an hideout he shared with Flint all those years ago. He tames a wild horse and despite wanting to be left alone to die he becomes involved in a range war. Taking on the identity of Flint he sides with Nancy Kerrigan against the vicious Buckdun faction.
"Legend was born that night in Kansas, and the story of the massacre at The Crossing was told and retold over many a campfire. Neither the man at the card table nor the boy that carried him away was known, and both vanished as if the earth had opened up to recieve them."
This is a lot darker than most of L'amour's books and stands out, in my mind, as one of his best. If you fancy a western then you'll be in the hands of a master here, period detail, little splashes of colour and the speech patterns are spot on. L'amour's knowledge of guns, horses and the cowboy lifestyle is always bang on the mark which is gratifying for an amateur historian of the Old West.
A bloody good book.
The only complaint I have is that whoever wrote the blurb on the back of the book (and I'm reading the current BANTEM paperback) seems to have not read the damn thing and Kettleman is referred to as Flint in the enticing but inaccurate blurb. Though I must congratulate them on the mean and moody cover image by Gordon Crabb
Still it's the book that counts and it's a belter.
RELATED: Next week on The Tainted Archive I will proudly publish a review with Beau L'amour about his father's rich legacy.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Got this book today - another impulse buy. Well I was in Borders browsing and I came across it and - well, I've not got a Holliday reference on my shelf and this one comes with some good quotes.
Gary l. Roberts
Wiley $18.95 £12.99
It was published in 2006 and looks a nice scholarly read. It's surprising how little is generally known about Holliday - sure everyone knows of his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his part in that infamous gunfight that has become known as, The Gunfight at the OK Corral. Gunfight at a vacant lot, may be more historically accurate but it doesn't have quite the same ring.
Still this book looks to cover Holliday's entire life so I'm looking forward to reading it and one day posting some of my new found knowledge in another Western Icons piece.
What I find interesting from looking at the pictures is that although, Val Kilmer's portrayal is generally considered the definitive Doc, Dennis Quaid's is much more physically near the mark. Mind you I've always thought so and think that Costner's Wyatt Earp should be better thought of than it is and in many ways I think it is better than the admittedly awesome Tombstone which was released around the same time.
Which leads me onto the other Earp/Holliday movies. John Sturges's 1957 Gunfight at the OK Corral had Kirk Douglas in the role of the doc and the follow up, Hour of the Gun boasted a rather excellent doc played by Jason Robards. And the far too hefty Victor Mature played the character alondside Henry Ford's lean, mean Earp in John Ford's My Darling Clementine.
None of the above films could claim to be historically accurate but they are all excellent movies in their own right. Course there have been many more films but the above are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.
For my vote the all time worse Holliday was Walter Houston in The Outlaw, a western that is so bad it's bloody brilliant. Where else could you see Holliday teamed up with Billy the Kid and both on the run from Pat Garret?
Oh and of course Jane Russel's breasts are shown at every opportuniy.
I'm working with subliminal images here - now according to my research - this post is about my cactus but apparently it will make you all rush out an buy The Tarnished Star this June - either that or have a sudden urge to listen to African tribal music.
Anyway this is my Cactus
THE LEGENDS RIDE AGAIN
This time out the editor is Nik Morton
Jack Martin is hoping to contribute himself.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
FREE COMPUTER GAME
Many years ago I wrote a text based computer game, using a utility called PAW which stood for Professional Adventure Writer. Basically it was an easy programming system that allowed anyone to write a computer game. Then the program would convert your creation into machine code and you'd end up with a working game.
Well I wrote a James Bond parody called Operation Thunderbowel - this was 1988 long before Austin Powers. The plot was that Blobum planned to poison the entire United Nations with a powerful laxative. The game player, was Shamus Bond and had to solve puzzles in order to progress to another level.
Anyway I self published the game under the Sacred Scroll Software title and sent out review copies. I thought I was going to be Bill Gates before Bill Gates.
CRASH MAGAZINE - which was this cool ZX Spectrum mag gave the game a good review and I sold I think, 100 odd Copies. These were on cassette tape and ran on the Spec 48k and up.
The review can be seen - BOTTOM LEFT (click on image to enlarge to readable size.)
Anyway I've not got a copy of this game and yet all these years later I found that it is available for free download from worldofspectrum.com. And what's more with a free emulator from the same site it runs on a PC.
Isn't that incredible, I wrote the thing in 1988 - over twenty years ago!
Man, I love the internet.
Problem is I'm stuck on it. Can't remember how to get out of the car.
NEW WEBSITE NEWS
This site will be of interest to readers and writers - a new site dedicated to writers who publish with the long respected Robert Hale LTD house.
American readers of the Archive have moaned how difficult and expensive it is to get Black Horse Westerns in the US. Well fear not - The Book Depository stocks all Hale westerns as well as other genres and does free postage worldwide.
Now there's no excuse not to dip into a rip roaring fresh off the press new western or romance or thriller or whatever else takes your fancy.
(pic - a frosty start to the day in my garden)
Campfire chat with the Cowgirl - Patricia Gott talks westerns
Patricia Probert Gott has just published her fifth novel, Cowgirl Days which is a sequel to her popular contemporary western, So You Want to be a Cowgirl. A retired businesswoman, Pat has a zest for life that keeps her moving onwards and pushing boundaries. Her novels tell thrilling stories with a feminine slant that are firmly set in the myth and reality of the American West.
So who is Pat Gott? How would she describe herself?
"I'm a Western cowgirl living in an Eastern businesswoman's body.
I was raised in Strong, Maine by parents who didn't know one end of a horse from another--however, my grandfather was a South Dakota cowboy; his family from Nebraska. My grandmother was a cowgirl turned school teacher, as she bore ten kids. My grandfather taught me how to rope and throw a lariat and I listened to his tales of cowboy yesteryear with focused fascination. Who knew that I'd someday be a writer of westerns and teller of tall tales in fictional novels and short stories!
Horses have always been my passion. I wintered my first pony at age eight, and got an old (and I mean OLD) retired thorobred racehorse to ride at age 9. I traded and swapped until I ended up with a young two-year-old Morgan when I was age 14 that I trained and owned until I graduated from college. As a youth, I could be found riding throughout my county almost every day and have owned a horse or two (or three) all my life--fifty years later I still trail ride 3-4 times a week. I've ridden English, Western and presently ride in an endurancee trail saddle with a hackamore headstall on my Arab(s). I own two, both of whom I've owned and trained since they were yearlings.--Thus my love and knowledge of horses.
I've ridden on eight moving horsepack trips in the six western states of AZ, UT, CO, SD WY and MT, and have been horse trekking in Tanzania and Egypt, the Snow River area of Australia, Castle-to-castle in Hungary, as well as a 10-day horse safari in South Africa.
I also combined my horse skills with the western way of life when I worked for four summers as a lady wrangler around Cody, Wyoming.--Thus my love and knowledge of the west, especially Wyoming/Montana areas."
Pat seems to live and breathe the western. So what, I wonder, does the western mean to her.
" If I were to ask for a "western" book, I'd expect to receive a historic saga about life west of MN, IA, MO, AR and LA relating to horses, cattle, buffalo, wolves, wagon trains, stagecoaches, Indians, cowboys, cowgirls, miners, ranchers and farmers. I feel a real kinship with the American West and reading a western book is like reading/learning about my heritage.
So did Pat always want to be a writer?
"No, I was too busy raising a son as a single parent, and building a roller skating business, which I owned and managed for 24 years.
Although I took a Business Writing Course as a college requirement (I majored in Business Admin) and elected to take a Journalism Course for fun
, I never aspired to be a writer or author of books.
During snowstorms (and we get many in Maine) when I'd have to cancel roller skating, I began writing my personal biography, just for the fun of it, with no intention of having it published. However, about half way through, and upon the urging of a few close friends who'd read some chapters, I began adding more details and deleting some very perso
nal "stuff" with thoughts of publishing it. It took a couple of years to finish writing. I spent months editing and then added 80 pictures (I'm also a photographer). Finally, in 2004 I completed a good 185-page autobiography, "Metamorphosis, My Journey of Growth an
d Change." That was my first book. "
Archive readers should ride on over to PAT'S website and check out some of the wonderful pictures. I mention that the website contains many great snaps of her living the western lifestyle. But how much of Pat's busy life is led this way?
"Not enough...I love the openness and serenity of the west whereas Maine seems claustrophobic with dense woods, lakes and ponds everywhere in between hills and mountains. However, I trailride as in the west. We have many old county roads now grown over with bush and grass, along with cleared snowmobile trails on which to ride. I'm always exploring and discovering new trails that lead to other new trails or back to old trails. I ride Arabians and they love the freedom of trail riding. I don't do arena or show ring riding.
The Tainted ARchive is envious. So how would Pat describe her books to new readers looking for a thrilling western read?
"My two cowgirl books are contemporary westerns. "So You Wanna be a Cowgirl", 2007, is a memoir of my adventures as a lady-wrangler in Wyoming for four summers, packed with humor and behind the scene wrangler shenanigans.
Assuming PAT can find time, I wonder what future projects she has lined up?
"This winter, the second book in my children's Horse Tails series, "Horse Tails by Mookie the Mustang" is being illustrated, while I have just finished writing the third book, "Horse Tails by Horses in Harness". These should be available to the public summers of 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Enticing news, then for the western fan. I wonder where Pat sees the western going over the coming years?
"I'm optimistic about the western genre. After all, the pioneers who settled the west are the founders of modern America. The younger generation may be into reading murder mysteries and legal dramas at present. However as they age and appreciate history more, I believe they will generate toward the western as an interesting and exciting part of American history, as we of the olding generation already know. Western authors and readers just need to keep the general public informed and aware that western novels are a viable, versatile and exciting reading option, as you are doing in the Wild West Mondays."
The next WILD WEST MONDAY is the 2nd MARCH and PAT already has some great things lined up to help with the now global initiative.
" I called my local library late this past Saturday; they're very cooperative to local authors. When I explained the concept behind the Wild West Monday, they agreed to use that day to kick off a Western Reading Week, ending on Saturday March 7th with me signing/selling and giving a presentation of my cowgirl books and children's horse story. They will place a bookrack in their lobby of western authors including Grey, L'Amour, Wheeler, Kelton, McMurtry, Paul A Hawkins and William W. Johnstone, as well as other lesser known authors, and my books.
They gave me permission to bring my western saddle, boots, hat, chaps and anything else that would epitomize western life like my ranch/wrangler photo album. They are using the picture of my book covers (that I've inserted, it's me on the cover of So You Wanna be a Cowgirl) for promotional posters. "
The Tainted Archive thanks Pat for her time in answering our questions.
WILD WEST MONDAY NEWS -The next one is the 2nd March.
This rather topical item was brought to my attention - I just read the gift Michelle Obama gave to Laura Bush was a journal with a quote from western writer Louis L'Amour: "There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. But that will be the beginning."
Thanks to Jim Griffin for that snippet.
Yep Wild West Monday is a new beginning for the wonderful adventure genre known as THE WESTERN.
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