Title: Emmet Dutrow
Author: Jack Schaefer
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 29th September 2020
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: His voice rolled at its deepest.
Emmet Dutrow was an odd man. If you want to know just how odd, you’ll have to read the words of his neighbour in this kind of unsettling Western short story.
This, for me, highlighted just what it is about Christianity that I tend to find so disturbing – the belief that we are all sinners and somehow unforgiveable. Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s not how everyone follows their faith. But it’s the part that scares me the most. And to find it in a western short story. Well, it was somewhat surprising. But also helped to expand on my general discomfort.
I love that one of the messages in this short story is the idea that letting someone have their own experiences and make their own mistakes can actually save them from a far worst mistake. That, and, ultimately, everyone is responsible for the decisions that they choose to make in their lives. Even if there is a bit of a difficult situation that drove Jess to his actions – he was still ultimately responsible for them. And most definitely had to pay the price in the end.
Even though I quite enjoyed this story, it was really tragic. Just a reminder that when you have children, you can quite easily mess them up. And sometimes it’s done with the best of intentions (which, although the father in this freaked me out big time, he also tried). Just a truly tragic and somewhat uncomfortable short story that I’ve now experienced.