A NEW REVIEW

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Well, new to me, at any rate — it was actually published a year ago at Buddies In the Saddle, the blog of Western enthusiast and scholar Ron Scheer, who has recently published the first volume in his study of Western literature How the West Was Written.

It’s a thoughtful and, to me, perceptive review, that gets to the heart of my ambitions for the stories.  Here’s part of it:

This is one of those books that came over the transom at BITS. Written by screenwriter and novelist Lloyd Fonvielle, it’s a self-published collection of stories that seem not to have seen the light of day until now. Springing from obscurity, they bear the marks of an inspired imagination, well informed by western movies.

A caveat at the outset, for readers of the traditional western. There’s both a dark and raunchy edge to some of these stories. If they were movies themselves, they would challenge the MPAA reviewers given the job of labeling them with suitable parental warnings. One or two would be candidates for an NC-17 rating.

Themes. The stories take place in a world of shootings, killings, and various frontier atrocities, but the recurring interest in them has to do with relations between men and women. Typically a man of some character finds himself dealing with a woman of equal nerve and grit.

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Exploring relations between men and women on the Western frontier in franker and more complex ways strikes me as the great new horizon for writers of Western fiction, and it has certainly been a central concern of my own Western fiction.

For the full review, and to check out Scheer’s valuable site, go here:

Fourteen Western Stories review

Click on the images to enlarge.

MASTER OF THE SENATE

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I just finished this third volume of Robert Caro’s multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson.  The fourth volume, The Passage Of Power, is now on its way to me.  I’ve tried to make my way through the work slowly, to prolong the pleasure, and so I won’t have such a long wait for the fifth and final volume, which won’t be out for several years, but it’s not working out that way.  Caro is just too compulsively readable.

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The Years Of Lyndon Johnson is like a vast Victorian novel, on a scale that would have daunted even Dickens (though perhaps not Tolstoy).  It bristles with life, with amazing characters and amazing incidents and amazing revelations that compel attention.  Indeed, if we didn’t have evidence of Caro’s prodigious and meticulous research, we might easily dismiss his work as fiction.

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It’s the most important work about the nation since de Tocqueville‘s Democracy In America — a comprehensive education in American institutions, American aspirations, American delusions, American idealism, American skulduggery.  Reading it ought to be considered a civic duty — a thoroughly pleasurable civic duty, like watching fireworks on the 4th Of July.

AUTHORS

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I’m very amused by the authors who have sided with Hachette in its dispute with Amazon about the pricing of e-books.  They want to be left out of the mix, while the two corporations sort out their differences.

Those differences concern a product, books, created by the authors in question.  The idea that authors should somehow be above the fray, and suffer no consequences from the fray — because they are artists? — when they and their works are what the fray is all about is either charmingly naive or utterly insane, depending on your point of view.

I’d go with insane.

BIG, HOT, CHEAP AND RIGHT

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This book is a genuine delight, witty, sometimes downright funny, learned and informative — a startling eye-opener about what’s really going on in The Lone Star State.  Whatever you think you know about Texas is probably wrong, due to the exaggerations of Texans themselves, the animus of pundits elsewhere, and a veritable tsunami of misinformation about the state currently inundating the culture.  Erica Grieder will set you right, though, in this very entertaining and illuminating book.  Grieder thinks for herself and has a passionate respect for facts, which makes her an oddball among modern journalists and a most refreshing one.

You can buy it here.