Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tales of the American West, edited by Richard S. Wheeler

Tales of the American West: The Best of Spur Award-Winning Authors, edited by Richard S. Wheeler

While I adore movie westerns (“Unforgiven” and “The Shootist” are my favorites) my love hasn’t translated to the written word. I’ve read the odd Zane Grey and a handful of others, but the genre never had the same hold on me as sci-fi or mystery novels do. For this reason when I unwrapped Tales of the American West at Christmas my first thought was this would take forever to complete, but once opening it I found myself very pleasantly surprised.

My favorite story was Continuity by Elmer Kelton, a poetic portrayal of why youth innovates yet age brings a resistance to change. Charity by Sandra Whiting was a close second, describing a touching relationship between a white woman and an Indian spanning decades. The single line in the anthology that I found most impressive, though, came from Jory Sherman’s Comes the Hunter: “He loved so many things about her that they all became tangled up in his mind until he felt his mind could not breathe nor sort through them for explanation.” Beautiful.

First Sentence (from the Introduction):
The Spur Awards, given out annually by the Western Writers of America, have been the hallmark of excellence in the field of western literature for almost half a century.

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