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Westerns - not dead yet

Leif Talked to novelist Leif Enger today for an upcoming Q and A, and though he denies it, I am starting to believe he's keeping the rousing tradition of the American western alive and well. His new book, So Brave, Young, and Handsome, continues the tradition of the western with style to spare. It's narrated by a Midwestern writer who joins a retired outlaw in his quest for the wife he abandoned decades ago. It's got cowboys, posses, shootouts, chases, flights, reunions, one really big flood, pretty much everything you might ask for. It's got short, fast-paced dialogue-driven chapters for good reason: "A lot of those books I remember reading had really short chapters," Enger says. "So they had this galloping rhythm that works well for creating and maintaining momentum. I thought something like that would be fun to do - and to read."

Russell And he's right. Enger, who wrote Peace Like a River, which is one of my favorite books, says he grew up reading Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey, and later learned to love Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove = genius) and Charles Portis (True Grit, another classic). I've never really been a western fan (despite my love for the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, which I swear is not solely due to Russell Crowe's presence), but So Brave is just one of those books you can't help but love.

Enger will be at Books & Books on Wednesday, June 4.

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Andy

3:10 to Yuma was kind of a bad movie.

amy

Speaking of True Grit...
When I was 9 or 10 or 11 or so I loved Glen Campbell. So of course I saw True Grit. And then I wrote him a fan letter. I will forever love my dad because when Glen (actually, one of his lackeys, but I prefer to believe it was the Wichita Lineman himself) sent me a return letter, my Dad was kind enough to hide it from my older sister who would have made complete fun of me. (and looking back, why wouldn't she?) Anyway, it was one of the highlights of my childhood. Glen Campbell, singing superstar and star of True Grit, never mind John Wayne or Kim Darby, wrote me! So I love that movie, and thus I love Leif Enger...and of course, I did adore "Peace Like a River." I can't wait to read his new one.

amy

and whatever happened to Kim Darby, anyway?

Connie

I loved that movie True Grit, too! John Wayne was great in it. Isn't that the one where he rides out against the bad guys with the reins in his teeth and a gun in each hand? Also I loved Glen Campbell too. I used to watch his variety show when I was a little kid, and I loved it (remember variety shows? there were THOUSANDS). I am very impressed you had an autograph from the Rhinestone Cowboy. I would never have mocked you for that!

P.S. I love Gentle on My Mind.

Connie

IMDB reports that Kim Darby has had a long career on TV and in some questionable movies (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is one of the more appalling ones.) But she was also on The X-Files (Sein Und Zeit) and Becker and Murder She Wrote and The Love Boat. So she's been working. Just not in anything better than Teen Wolf Too.

amy

Ok, the Glen Campbell variety show. Do you remember the one where he was singing, "My, my, my Delilah" to some model or something and they were sitting on the edge of a fake pond or pool or something and the girl fell in?????? That was priceless. It wasn't meant to happen. And the model girl finally got out of the water and she was covered with lily pads and stuff? Oh my god.

Connie

I can't say I remember specific episodes. Just that I watched it...

can't fight this feeling anymore

Best western novel: Lonesome Dove.

HoCo

I wouldn't make fun of you for liking Glen Campbell either, Amy. I recall his Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (I think that was the correct title for his variety show) and all those great Jimmy Webb songs he released (Wichita Lineman, among them). Gentle on My Mind, Rhinestone Cowboy, Southern Nights, By the Time I Get to Phoenix and Houston are proudly on my iPod. Many people don't know he was also a noted session guitarist and played on Beach Boys albums when that mattered. He has a new CD coming. Haven't heard it yet tho but am curious.

e.p.l.

sorry connie, this blog commentary has gone far afield and become a glen campbell retrospective. but i still can't listen to "galveston" without getting a little choked up.

Connie

It really has strayed...and yet...I too get a little glisten in the eyes when I hear Galveston. I think that's his best song!

amy

did you know you can get a "galveston" ringtone?
and here's a video of "galveston:" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIUPCfIihQ4
what nice memories, including the fact that i have discovered i was only 8 when this was on!

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