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  • October 2012
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The Written West

If you’re at all in tune with popular culture in the 20th century (yes, I know we’re now in the 21st) you have probably seen a Western.

Maybe it was 2010’s Oscar Nominated film True Grit, or the 1969 original.  Perhaps it was a Clint Eastwood film, or the comedy classic Blazing Saddles.  It might also have been a movie or TV show that borrows heavily from the standard themes of Westerns.

Joss Whedon’s Firefly is a Space Western, or a Western set in space.  That one’s fairly obvious, but included in this category is popular anime Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star, though it’s not hard to catch on to the idea from their titles.

But you can also pick any action movie of the past thirty years and find common character tropes like the Gunslinger (yes, today I am getting most of my information from tvtropes.com), and the Sheriff.

So, you’ve probably seen a Western, but have you read one?

The Western as a fiction genre peaked in the 1960’s, but the tradition lives on with a few new titles coming out every year.  Particularly as a way to put a different spin on other, more popular genres such as Sci-Fi and Fantasy.  Here’s a short list of westerns to cut your teeth on:

Written in Blood, Ghost Moon, and Victorio’s War by John Wilson

A young man’s search for the father who abandoned him takes him through the wilds of the Arizona Territory and northern Mexico during the 1870s and brings him in contact with an assortment of intriguing characters.

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

In 1867 Texas, Jett, a girl passing as a boy while seeking her long-lost twin brother, joins forces with Honoraria Gibbons, an inventor, and White Fox, a young Army scout, to investigate a zombie army that is terrorizing the West.

 

 

True Grit by Charles Portis

In the 1870s, young Mattie Ross learns that her beloved father was gunned down by his former handyman. But even though this gutsy 14-year-old is seeking vengeance, she is smart enough to figure out she can’t go alone after a desperado who’s holed up in Indian territory. With some fast-talking, she convinces mean, one-eyed US Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn into going after the despicable outlaw with her.

Additionally, check out the many works of some of the genre’s most famous authors, Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Luke Short.

Happy trails and happy reading!

-Morgan, Main-Teen

3 Responses

  1. Westerns are not usually my first choice, but the genre mash-up that is Firefly made me reconsider, as did Jeff Bridges’s performance in True Grit. Great picks!

    Dead Reckoning looks awesome!

  2. I was never a fan of Westerns, but I read Lonesome Dove this summer and it was awesome! I might check out some of these other ones to see if I like them too.

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