Westerns Message Board


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Westerns Message Board

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Jul 27, 2006, 3:46pm


I haven't read a ton of Westerns, but I've read enough to know I love the genre.

In case you missed it, this recent article from Salon.com reviewing the state of the Western novel is quite interesting


Other than that, I just see this is a place to share favorites and browse the libraries of this rich, broad genre.

My favorites are pretty generic:

Lonesome Dove and Little Big Man

I've also read most of the Owen Wister's The Virginian and found it enjoyable but half the reason I read Westerns is for the language and I found the Victorian prose to really detract from the subject matter and setting. An interesting novel though.

Before I even knew I liked "Westerns," I was an enormous fan of the work of Sam Shepard and his neo-Western short stories and vignettes. Cruising Paradise is fabulous, Hawk Moon is mysterious, The Motel Chronicles is a free-form collection of memories and imaginings that I think I need to revisit.

Looking forward to some other folks joining and participating!

Jul 27, 2006, 10:45pm

I stopped buying them (other than L'Amour collections of short stories) about fifteen years ago, but before that I'd been buying for about that many years, so I own nearly 300. Most of them have the standard sort of plot, but some vary. Some are almost "noirish," if you can say that about Westerns -- the hero ain't so much of one to start with. I don't own any of those god-awful sex & violence-filled ones that came out in the seventies.

Dic 10, 2006, 2:57pm

Great article there bud. I like it.

The article did miss the greatest two western trilogies of the past few years - Star Wars, and the Mariachi moives, Mariachi, Desperado & Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

I remember going to a western lit conference and most of the professors complaining that Star Wars took the Western into outerspace. I have to agree.

And above all, where was The Ox-Bow Incident in the discussion -

Any one know of any pulp western writers still cranking out novels? I know the Mountian Man series is going strong, and they still haven't gone through everything Max Brand wrote, but I'm talking about a pulp writer that really does the west write - I'm thinking Louis L'Amour finds Chandler type of right. Any suggestions?

Oh. And I own the sex&violence seventies westerns, and they make me start chuckling from first word to last. Ain't good, ain't right, but they can be fun.

Dic 10, 2006, 3:10pm

You might take a look at the list of the Spur Awards, and try out authors from your decade of choice.


My Westerns are mostly by Lee Hoffman, whose novel The Valdez Horses won the Spur in 1967.

Jul 4, 2007, 8:30pm

I'm new to LibraryThing and am not a reader of Westerns. However, I wonder if some of you avid fans can solve a mystery that my wife has been trying to solve for years. She was named Billie Louise after a character in a Western novel, but neither her father nor her mother could remember which one it was. It would be something written in 1935 or before. I've searched Zane Grey, one of her fatther's favorite authors, extensively but can find no character by that name. I've even advertised in several magazines going to Western novel fans, but no luck. Does the name Billie Louise trigger memories for any or you? I'd love to surprise my wife by finding the book and giving it to her.

Editado: Jul 4, 2007, 10:46pm


Have you tried googling? i just got a hit for The Ranch at the Wolverine by B. M. Bower. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1914.

Jul 4, 2007, 10:44pm

Though I don't own any Westerns, I read library copies several years ago. Vardis Fisher novels were some of those favorites. His Mountain Man was filmed in the seventies as "Jeremiah Johnson".

Jul 6, 2007, 9:24pm

Thanks much for your response. Yes, I've tried Googling and just now looked up The Ranch at the Wolverines but the very brief summary mentions only a character named "Marthy." What did you mean by a "hit?" Wherever it is, I'd like to go there.
Again, thanks.

Jul 6, 2007, 9:36pm

Never mind. I JUST FOUND IT !! As "Billy" not "Billie" Louise. You've done me a huge favor. I've been working on this for almost 20 years. I'm going to order the book tonight and will let you know how my wife reacts when she finds it gift wrapped beside her dinner plate -- or maybe her pillow. Again, thanks.
Dave Stewart
Asheville, NC

Jul 7, 2007, 12:48pm


Now that we know, Just google "The Ranch at the Wolverine" (no "s" on the word) and "Billie Louise." The first hit should be:

The Ranch at the Wolverine
The Ranch at the Wolverine ...... The chin of Charlie Fox squared perceptibly, so that Billie Louise caught a faint resemblance to Marthy in his face. ...
freeread.com.au/western/w00117.html - 540k - Cached - Similar pages

Hope your wife is suitably excited!

Jul 18, 2007, 12:02pm

For Myshelves: What a day it was at our house when The Ranch at the Wolverine arrived! I don't think I've ever seen my wife so happily astonished. She is not one to cry, but I did see some tears when she opened this package. She immediately began reading and is finding the book to be something more than a run-of-the-mill Western novel. She read me some paragraphs that were written in truly elegant language. I believe this book will give her some insight into what her father was thinking when he insisted that she be named after the character Billy Billie Louise. I'm going to look up the author D.W.Bower to learn more about him.

Again, our thanks for your tip that brought great joy to our house!

Dave Stewart

Jul 18, 2007, 3:22pm


Thanks for the report! I've been doing genealogy for years, and for a lot of us it is almost as exciting to find a piece of missing info for someone else as to find one for ourselves. I guess that this search was genealogy of a sort, if your wife is learning the source of her name and getting an idea of her parents' reasons for choosing it. That's neat! I'm so glad it worked out.

Jul 18, 2007, 10:40pm

Here's a little more information about B.M. Bower, the author. She felt compelled to use initials to hide her gender, it says. Makes sense, since she was writing in an era when Westerns were almost exclusively a male preserve.

14angeljoy Primer Mensaje
Ago 9, 2007, 5:09pm

Hi. Can anyone help me find western authors who are light on the bad language? I don't read many westerns myself but I'm trying to help a friend of mine find some new authors to read. She doesn't really care for a lot of explicit language. If anyone can help, I'd very much appreciate it. Thanks!

Ago 11, 2007, 9:42pm

angeljoy, I don't recall language beyond the very occasional "hell" or "damn" in the entire 50-something novels by Louis L'Amour, nor in any of the short stories he wrote either. The advantage there is that if she likes one she's got months of reading ahead of her. And, the local library probably has most of the books on their paperback racks.

Ernest Haycox didn't use any profanity. Certainly Zane Grey didn't. Grey's books are very dated, but they've all got a kind of sweetness to them. Luke Short's books (another very prolific author) were grittier but still got the story across without cussing. L. P. Holmes wrote a bunch of books that meet the criteria too.

All of them are somewhat formulaic, but that's what Westerns are. Good guy trying to keep ranch or town safe, bad guys trying to do otherwise, lovely shy woman in the background, etc.

Ago 13, 2007, 2:24pm

Thank you so much for your help. I did a quick check at my local library and they have many of the books by those authors. Thanks again!

Ago 15, 2007, 5:41pm

Also consider books by Emerson Houghand Owen Wister for good westerns with no bad language.

Dic 8, 2007, 7:43am

I've read so many of the works listed above, but just wanted to mention a couple of my recent favorites, particularly Oakley Hall's unqualified masterpiece Warlock, now readily available in a NYRB edition, and NBA-winning novelist John Williams' spectacular novel Butcher's Crossing. These are two of the finest Westerns I've ever read, easily making my top 10 all-time favorites.

Editado: Dic 8, 2007, 7:33pm

And since this all seems like no more than a notation effort, I thought I'd list my 'favorite' Westerns, a cross-genre compilation of classics:

-Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry

-Warlock - Oakley Hall

-The Last Crossing - Guy Vanderhaeghe

-Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy

-The Big Sky / The Way West - A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

-A Distant Trumpet - Paul Horgan

-The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters - Robert Lewis Taylor

-True Grit - Charles Portis

-The Ox-Bow Incident - Walter Van Tilburg Clark

-Little Big Man - Thomas Berger

-Butcher's Crossing - John Williams

Ene 16, 2008, 3:06pm

hey i'm in a lit types class and i need a good western to read if any1 has a western book that they just fell in love with let me know, i might use it for my class