Western novels

Greetings, a few weeks ago there was a post about Sci-Fi novels with some good suggestions and I was wondering if there are any good western stories out there. I have never read many westerns because most of them seem to fall into the “hollylwoodization” type. The kind I would like to see are more the “end of the era” type story, such as the movies Unforgiven and Wild Bunch. I like to stay away from the popular and glamorized stuff.


Welcome to the boards, Chimaera.

I’m not much for reading westerns, but I enjoy the ones that Larry McMurtry has done. Lonesome Dove is one of the finest stories I’ve ever read. I recommend it highly.

I think Larry McMurtry is okay. I’ve also read almost all of Louis L’Amour’s stuff and enjoyed most of it, although his writing style is kind of stiff sometimes. When I want a good golly-gee-whiz nostalgia type thing, I’ll read Zane Grey (really old fashioned stuff, that.)

Thanks Purd and Trouble,

I do not generally read westerns, but in honor of the less than Super Bowl I had a western marathon with my two favorite movies, the Unforgiven and Wild Bunch. Thanks for the suggestions, but I was looking for something a little more specific that deals with the “last days” of the west and the conflict between it and the dawn of the “modern” period. :wink: Although Lonesome Dove sounds interesting I think I will take a look.

Thanks again

There was four books in the Lonesome Dove series. Streets Of Laredo was the last one, and it touches occasionally on the dying of the old west in the face of encroaching industrial civilization. Have fun reading. :slight_smile:

“In the time of my remembering…”

I highly recommend This House of Sky by Ivan Doig. Although it was his first novel in a series, I feel it was his best. It covers the time period you are interested in Chimaera.

The best part is that if you like it you can pick up the rest of his books.

Great suggestion, bare! I love Ivan Doig’s work. My fave is Dancing At The Rascal Fair.

One Louis Lamour book I really enjoyed was “Last Of The Breed”. It’s kind of a “man out of time” type story, as it takes place in modern times, but has all the elements of a classic western story. I also have remember reading several books based on “The Magnificent Seven”; it was a LONG time ago (I was around 14), and I can’t remember the author.

Yep, that was another good one. Doig often wrote of my stomping grounds when I was a kid, which is probably one of the reasons I like his books so well. I also particularly enjoy his use of language.

Another classic that you might enjoy is Tough Trip Through Paradise by Andrew Garcia, it provides a fascinating history of Montana and an autobiography of a man who lived among the Native people of Western Montana in the last years prior to their confinement on reservations.

Don’t read fiction much anymore. Used to. Read most of Louis L’Amour. He writes in such a way that attracts a wide variety of readers: in my family alone my old-fashioned father read them, my feminist sister reads them, and I read most of them.

A couple movies that you may enjoy if you haven’t already seen: ‘Little Big Man’ and ‘The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid’.

A ‘western’ I liked was ‘Seven Rivers West’ by Edward Hoagland. I highly recommend.

If you’re more interested in the historical period than in “cowboy” stuff, you might like “Heart of the Country” by Greg Matthews. (It’s about a hunchbacked buffalo hunter, he sort of reminds me of Tyrion Lannister’s character in GRRMartin’s fantasy series.)

In addition to McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove series, try “Anything for Billy”, about Billy the Kid (naturally).

Another good one is “Tie My Bones to Her Back” by Robert F. Jones – I’ve read quite a few western/pioneer novels, and this is the first one that set out, in detail, what it was like to build a fire and cook a meal on the plains for a bunch of buffalo hunters.

The main character in “The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon” by Tom Spanbauer is a half-breed bisexual boy who grows up in an Idaho whorehouse. He goes on a journey to discover the meaning of his Indian name. Mayhem ensues. It’s part comedy, mostly tragedy.

You might also like “Incident at Twenty Mile” by Trevanian. It’s a western-romance-psycho killer story set in a mining town. I adore Trevanian, he should publish more often.

“The Homesman” by Glendon Swarthout – a “homesman” is the guy who takes pioneer wives back east after they’ve lost their minds from prairie living, and dying.

Apologize for the long post, but I love this genre.

I like my westerns raw and gritty – no Laura Ingalls Wilder stuff here.