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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

10 westerns you must read - ONE

NOTE - Like my top ten western movies these books are not in order of preference. This will be a list of what I consider the ten essential western books and films.

As with any list it is bound to divide opinion but it's deeply personal and it would be great if anyone fancies placing their essential westerns in the comments box.




Shane
Jack Schaefer


originally published: 1949


Shane is such a slim novel that these days it would be considered a novella but despite its brevity it's big on story. Most are familiar with the movie starring Alan Ladd (please let's not ever remake this one) but not so many have read the original source novel.

By any standard of measurement Shane is a great piece of writing - Shane dresses in black and doesn't take no trouble from no man, he stands tall the embodiement of male strength. At the centre of the story is the love the young boy feels for Shane - but the kid is in love with the mythical elements of the wild west and to him, and us, Shane represents this. A tough no-nonsense man with a strong sense of right and wrong.

The fact that we see the story through the young boy's eyes works really well and when we see Shane back down from a fight, we don't initially think that he is trying to escape violence and his past. No we, like Bob, see him as a coward but that is something we don't want to believe.

The novel was originally serialised in Argosy under the title, The Rider from Nowhere but it wasn't until the book was published as Shane that it became a massive success. And of course the movie came in 1953 and made the character world famous. Incidentially the film is also in my list of 10 westerns you must watch.

8 comments:

Joanne Walpole said...

Believe it or not, I don't think I've ever sat down and watched Shane in its entirety. So, to make amends, I've just been over to Amazon and bought the book. Thanks Gary.

ARCHAVIST said...

Well done Jo - you've started wild west monday early and er, on Tuesday

Joanne Walpole said...

I don't like waiting...;-)

James Reasoner said...

As much as I love the movie version of SHANE, I think the book is even better. I agree, the narrator's voice is what makes it really special.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'ts been so long since I've read this book that I remember only the basics, and certianly I enjoyed it. I'll have to see the rest of the list before I can decide if this one deserves the top spot.

Part of the fun of these lists is the debate. ;)

ARCHAVIST said...

Yeah well Charles as I say they are in no particular order but you are correct. The debate is the fun of these lists and I do hope to attract some lively debate.
Thanks

Barbara Martin said...

I watched many reruns of the Shane movie during childhood that I know the scenes almost by heart. Classic movie.

Juri said...

I've always thought the both are overrated, especially the movie, and there sure are books and films that I like and appreciate more, but I wouldn't deny the importance of both to the genre.