Westerns, Reconsidered

I’ve never been a fan of westerns–neither on film or paper. I’ve always considered westerns to be the domain of the older male, which is often the case. But over the last number of years there has been a burgeoning of a new kind of western—the literary western. The literary western is like the traditional western in that it is westernsfrequently set in the American (or sometimes Canadian) west and  usually (but not always) takes place during the 19th century. Like the traditional western genre, the literary western is comprised of themes of land, livestock, relations between the white and native world, complete with gunfights and lawmen. But unlike the conventional western, this genre often contains a weightier message—revealing the darker side of western expansion…racial inequality, entitlement, and greed. More often than not, the lines between good and bad are blurred, leaving the reader to assess the ethical climate of the time. And literary westerns often have a hard-boiled grittiness, bringing a more authentic voice to the world of the west. So, if you love history, action, fascinating characters, and a story well-told, then give literacy westerns a shot.

 

3 thoughts on “Westerns, Reconsidered”

  1. I read The Sisters Brothers a couple of years ago and it promptly went to the top of my all time favorite books. I’ve not been a fan of westerns either but this is in a class of it’s own. I loved the writing style, the humor and the dialogue. I decided that if the Coen Brothers were to write a “western” this would be what they would write. Thank you Patrick DeWitt for your clever story. I get to discuss it again next month for a library reading group.

  2. Patrick deWitt made me chuckle out loud and made my heart ache in this story. He creates a world that isn’t black nor white, good nor bad in The Sisters Brothers. Anyone who makes me root for a criminal through wit and keen insight wins in my opinion. Cheers.

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