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Fonvielle’s ‘Six Western Love Stories’

. . . isn’t a romance novel. No moon in June, pie in the sky, lovey dovey BS. The love in these short stories is sometimes given and sometimes taken, It’s hard and it’s rough, born of necessity, lust and greed. There are turns of tenderness though but that tenderness seemingly comes with time and life lived. Descriptive and colorful, I found myself living through these stories, being in them for the moments they took me to read. That’s the best I can say about these stories. They draw you in and make you partake. The only disappointment is when they’re over.

For book details go here:

Six Western Love Stories

NOW PUBLISHED

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These are not ordinary Western romances — they are as wild, as bitter, as sweet as the Old West itself . . . raunchy at times, violent at times, heartbreaking at times, pulsing with the high spirits of a rambunctious frontier:

One Kiss — the ghost of an old love visits the mind of a feckless wanderer and redeems a lifetime of regret . . .

Hidden Canyon — a silent film star makes her first Western on location in Arizona and learns about the preposterous snares of Hollywood and the hard-bitten charms of a real cowboy . . .

Decline and Fall — a man carries a book in his saddlebags and reads it over and over again, until he finds a woman who understands why . . .

Young Love — a sixteen year-old preacher’s son and a twenty-two year-old whore discover the miracle of impetuous flapdoodle . . .

Romance — a clueless outlaw courts a respectable schoolmarm and nearly pays for it with his life . . .

My Hero — a fourteen year-old girl is rescued from hopeless servitude by a fearless gunfighter, who teaches her what true gallantry is . . .

Only 99 cents for the lot — available at the link below for the Kindle or for the free Kindle Reading Apps that work on almost any computer or portable device:

Six Western Love Stories

THE RIVERS OF AMERICA

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They all got out of here any way they could –
The cold rain can give you the shivers.
They went down the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee,
All the rest of them rebel rivers.

— Bob Dylan, “Floater”, from Love and Theft

Until the triumph of the railroads and then the automobile and airplanes, rivers were what knit America together.  Horses and shoe leather could get you just about anywhere but rivers opened up the continent to settlement and trade on an epic scale.

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When you read the history of America before the Civil War almost all of it centers around rivers, which watered the fields cultivated by settlers but also gave them routes for trading what they grew in distant places and pathways into the interior of the continent, where — who knows? — things might be better.  They inspired and enabled the wanderlust that was always part of the American character.

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Today our rivers are mostly tamed by flood-control projects, dammed up to produce electricity, fouled by waste of one sort or another, but they’re still here — ghost highways into the past.

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The handy book pictured at the head of this post is a terrific guide to the river systems of North America, the vein-like patterns that once limned the possibilities of exploration and migration.  It’s good to remember them because in remembering them we remember who we are and how we got where we are.

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The mighty Colorado no longer empties into the sea, its water having been diverted for various purposes on its way there, but up north, in places, it looks the way it looked to the first Native Americans and the first European explorers who ever saw it — and it’s still a sight that can stir the heart.

Click on the images to enlarge.

COMANCHE MOON

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In terms of internal chronology, this is the second in Larry McMurtry’s four-book Lonesome Dove saga, coming just after Dead Man’s Walk and just before Lonesome Dove itself.  It was the fourth novel in the series McMurtry wrote and published, after Dead Man’s Walk.

I found Dead Man’s Walk disappointing.  I felt that the humor of Lonesome Dove, wry and earthy, had gotten a bit formulaic and that the incidents of the tale, though clearly inspired by historical fact, strained too hard for mythic effects.

McMurtry got back on track with Comanche Moon, however.  It’s a rip-roaring adventure, both romantic and harrowing, whose humor and narrative feel authentic, true to McMurtry’s vision of the Western frontier and of the characters who inhabited it.

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Click on the image to enlarge.

It doesn’t have the grand emotional architecture of Lonesome Dove — its narrative wanders around a bit towards the end — but it has a grand theme that ties it all together . . . the passing of the traditional Comanche way of life and thus the way of life of the Texas Rangers who were once mostly concerned with fighting the Comanches.

The Rangers and the Comanches slowly become ghostly mirror images of each other as the world moves on in ways they aren’t prepared to accept.

I can’t say that Comanche Moon equals, or even approaches, the majestic perfection of Lonesome Dove — it would take quite a book to do that — but it’s a damn good novel, humane, especially with regard to its Indian characters, moving and consistently entertaining.

MAN OF THE WEST

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Kino Lorber has just released a terrific Blu-ray of Anthony Mann’s terrific Man Of the West, starring Gary Cooper.

Mann started out making low-budget films noirs in the 1940s then became a master filmmaker in the Western genre with the five Westerns he made with Jimmy Stewart in the 1950s.  After he and Stewart had a falling out and parted ways, Mann made a few more Westerns with other stars, including Man Of the West.

Like all of Mann’s Westerns it has a noirish edge to it.  Cooper is a reformed outlaw drawn by chance back into the company of his former gang, led by the psychotic Dock Tobin, played with scenery-chewing gusto by Lee J. Cobb.

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Forced to face up to the crud he used to be and struggling to escape the clutches of the gang once again, he endures a dark night of the soul, of humiliation and shame, before performing the heroic deeds that will set things right again.

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Mann had a terrific eye for composition, for landscapes and for movement within them.  When he started working in CinemaScope, as here, he began to develop the epic style he would one day bring to late-career films like El Cid, one of the greatest of all Hollywood epics, and The Fall Of the Roman Empire, less great but still breathtaking in parts.

The Blu-ray format does justice to Mann’s visual genius and makes this new Kino Lorber edition a must-have for fans of the director’s work and of Westerns.

A STYLE OF MANHOOD

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Traditional Westerns work on many different levels.  They embody an American national myth, a sense of the values and circumstances that forged the nation.  They chart an ideal of the national character.  They are pageants of pictorial and plastic beauty.

On a deeper level they are wisdom tales about manhood, and sometimes about womanhood — educations in the passage to adulthood.

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John Ford’s My Darling Clementine is problematic in many respects, despite offering some of the greatest passages in any Western, indeed in any film.  Its secondary narrative, involving Doc Holliday and his girlfriend Chihuahua, doesn’t seem of a piece with the rest of the film — Victor Mature, though he gives one of his best performances ever, and Linda Darnell, vexing as always, seem like visitors from another movie, another genre, another era.

Their story feels perfunctory, artificial — miles away from the deeper currents of the film, which show a wanderer, Wyatt Earp, seduced into the concerns of civilization, gallantry and love.  Most importantly they present the image of an authentic manhood coming into being.

Henry Fonda’s Earp synthesizes a number of contradictory traits.  He is boyish, instinctively reticent, even shy, but utterly fearless and thoroughly competent when called on to confront danger.  He is unfailingly courteous towards others unless they cross the line of the unacceptable, in which case he is matter-of-factly punitive.

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He is gallant towards women, even when he’s not sure what form gallantry towards women should take, even when he fears that in showing gallantry he might make a fool of himself.  He’s coolly efficient when violent action is required, befuddled when dealing with etiquette towards women — but equally courageous in both predicaments.

His style of being a man defines the essence of manhood — a virility without bluster or show, a politesse without artifice or vanity.  His practical resourcefulness and bravery establish his manliness without need of further proof — his humility and generosity lend his manhood a natural nobility.

There are no men like Fonda’s Earp in modern popular art, one sign of the degradation of our culture.