Tag Archives: The Mammoth Book of Westerns

The Mammoth Book of Westerns edited by Jon E. Lewis

Overview
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Title: The Mammoth Book of Westerns
Author: Jon E. Lewis, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Frederic Remington, O. Henry, Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, B.M. Bower, Jack London, John G. Neihardt, Hamlin Garland, Zane Grey, Max Brand, Owen Wister, Conrad Richter, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Ernest Haycox, Oliver La Farge, A.B. Guthrie, James Warner Bellah, Frank Bonham, Wallace Stegner, Dorothy M. Johnson, Steve Frazee, Jack Schaefer, Mari Sandoz, Thomas Thompson, Wayne D. Overholser, Elmer Kelton, Loren D. Estleman, Larry McMurtry, Edward Dorn, Leslie Marmon Silko, William Kittredge, Rick Bass & Christopher Tilghman
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Short story collections, Westerns
Dates read: 7th March – 22nd November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: She teased him, and threw flour in his face and put vinegar in his coffee, but he took her rough jokes with silent wonder, never even smiling.

Synopsis

35 OUTSTANDING WESTERNS, FROM JAMES FREDERIC REMINGTON TO RICK BASS

The Western is one of the greatest genres of world literature – singularly American, but with a truly global readership. 88 Ever since James Fenimore Cooper transformed frontier yarns into a distinct literary form, the Western has followed two paths: one populist – Time magazine’s American Morality Play – able to fit any political philosophy from red to redneck, with a sentimental attachment to the misfit; the other literary – eschewing heroism and debunking many of the myths of the West.

The best of both are represented in this excellent collection which includes stories by Willa Cather, Stephen Carne, Hamlin Garland, A.B. Guthrie, O. Henry, William Kittredge, Mari Sandoz, Leslie Marmon Silko and Wallace Stegner.

Thoughts

This wasn’t a bad collection. But it also wasn’t my favourite… actually, thus far, it is my least favourite Mammoth Books collection. Nothing against the layout or the writing… I just don’t really love Westerns as I have now discovered. A new genre to try, but not one to necessarily fill my shelves with.

Since I didn’t fall head over heels for this, I think that it’s the kind of collection that I will read again. Once I’m a little older and possibly more mature… after all, my tastes in books and genres is constantly changing as I grow and change myself. But, for now, it will go back on my shelves and probably not be touched again for a little while.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is the mini bio at the beginning of each story. Not only did it highlight when and where the author lived, but some of their better-known books. A great bit of information if I had wanted to add any of these authors to my wishlist…

<- The Mammoth Book of the WestThe Outcasts of Poker Flat ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Hole in the Day by Christopher Tilghman

Overview
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Title: Hole in the Day
Author: Christopher Tilghman
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 22nd November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1990
5th sentence, 74th page: It’s Grant’s sister Geneva who comes to the door when he rings, and she tries not to look surprised.

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Synopsis

Grant and Lonnie have been separated by chance and decisions… so what will it take for them to be reunited?

Thoughts

This was a nice, easy and sweet reconciliation story. Which was an incredibly positive note to end The Mammoth Book of Westerns collection. After all, this collection has been filled with all sorts of violence, love and relationships. I liked that it ended on a story about being in love and finding a way to make the wrongs of the past work.

Grant and Lonnie may not have been a couple that I was necessarily desperately routing for, but they were a couple that I appreciated and wanted to have a happily ever after. Particularly since it was obvious that half of their issues come from misunderstandings and pride. Or at least, that’s how I read it…

This wasn’t one of those short stories that I’ll rant and rave about. And I don’t know that I would necessarily reread it. But it is definitely the kind of story that I appreciated and can say good things about.

<- Days of HeavenThe Mammoth Book of Wild Journeys ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Days of Heaven by Rick Bass

Overview
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Title: Days of Heaven
Author: Rick Bass
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 18th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: By that time of day it would be too hot to do anything but take a nap, so that’s what I’d do, upstairs on the big bed with all the windows open, with a fly buzzing faintly in one of the other rooms, one of the many empty rooms.

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Synopsis

He’s led an idyllic and happy life. That is, until two horrible men buy the property that he works on, and the days of heaven seem numbered…

Thoughts

I did really enjoy the nostalgia in this story. Particularly the reflection on the past and the desire to regain that sense of idyllic innocence and enjoyment. It made me think about my own childhood and the idyllic nature of it. Or at least, those moments that are coloured by rose-tinted glasses.

Although I think that nothing is “heaven”, it is obvious with the arrival of murder, mayhem and sinister plots that unfold. Yet, at the end of this story, it felt like maybe things weren’t quite as sinister as they seemed…

I did enjoy the rambling, reminiscing feeling of this story. It was nostalgic and not entirely expected. But also seriously enjoyable.

<- The Waterfowl TreeHole in the Day ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Waterfowl Tree by William Kittredge

Overview
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Title: The Waterfowl Tree
Author: William Kittredge
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 15th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1966
5th sentence, 74th page: “Just lay quiet.”

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Synopsis

This is a slightly tragic and bittersweet Western short story.

Thoughts

This is yet another slightly tragic short story. I’m kind of getting used to that in most of the westerns that I’ve been reading…

Although I didn’t get super pulled into the storyline, it felt like a tale about missed chances and lost loves. Which is a wonderful kind of story. I love tales about missed chances and lost loves – they’re so bittersweet and lonely.

Like this short story. Cute, lonely and bittersweet.

<- The Man to Send Rain CloudsDays of Heaven ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Man to Send Rain Clouds by Leslie Marmon Silko

Overview
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Title: The Mand to Send Rain Clouds
Author: Leslie Marmon Silko
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 12th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: He left the room and came back wearing a long brown overcoat.

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Synopsis

This is an interesting short story which highlights the different funeral rites and farewells.

Thoughts

I loved how this story investigated different funeral rites, particularly those within the different cultures often represented in westerns. Since westerns normally focus on the First Settlers (or whatever you call them), it was nice to see the focus shift to something other than the Christian practices.

I love that this story bypasses the Christian rites that I was expecting. And highlights that there’s other practices out there. It was fun and one of the westerns that I’ve enjoyed more so than many other short stories in the The Mammoth Book of Westerns collection.

This was fun and a lot more inclusive than many of the other westerns that I’ve read. I’d definitely read this story again.

<- C. B. & Q.The Waterfowl Tree ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

C. B. & Q. by Edward Dorn

Overview
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Title: C. B. & Q.
Author: Edward Dorn
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 6th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: In the car there were no white tabs on the windowshades by their seats.

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Synopsis

Blood, second chances and an intriguing western.

Thoughts

This was an incredibly short short story. And I’m really not sure what this story is about to be completely honest. There is something about westerns that frequently goes right over my head. And this is definitely one of them.

The main thing that I got out of the story was the idea of blood and not being given second chances. And, that not everything is as it seems. Most definitely not a story that I’m super excited about reading again if I’m being completely honest.

<- There Will Be Peace in KoreaThe Man to Send Rain Clouds ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

There Will Be Peace in Korea by Larry McMurtry

Overview
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Title: There Will Be Peace in Korea
Author: Larry McMurtry
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 3rd November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1964
5th sentence, 74th page: He wasn’t even living there, it was my room, but I was off on a roughnecking tower and I guess the room was the best place he could find.

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Synopsis

One day there will be peace. But, maybe not today.

Thoughts

I really enjoyed the tone and voice of this short story. Although, I didn’t find it all that engaging.

This is a bit of a rambling adventure. And not enjoyably so. I just found it kind of hard to concentrate on the rambling and I’m honestly not 100% sure of what was even happening.

This was well written. Just not the kind of story that I really wanted to read.

<- The BanditC. B. & Q. ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Bandit by Loren D. Estleman

Overview
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Title: The Bandit
Author: Loren D. Estleman
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 31st October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: He had always been first in line when magazines donated by the DAR came into the library, and while his fellow inmates were busy snatching up the new catalogues and finding the pages containing pictures of women in corsets and camisoles torn out, he was paging through the proliferating motoring journals, admiring the photographs and studying the technical illustrations of motors and transmissions.

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Synopsis

The Bandit has been released, and now he finds out about more bandit on the Western Frontier.

Thoughts

This is a nice, easy and super quick read. It’s not necessarily one that completely drew me in. but was still quite fun. Definitely an enjoyable and intriguing experience. One that I would probably repeat. Although, I don’t know that I’d get heaps more out of it.

This short story was well written in style. I just… didn’t fall in love with the storyline. Even trying to write a decent review is a little difficult. So I might just leave it here…

<- Desert CommandThere Will Be Peace in Korea ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Desert Command by Elmer Kelton

Overview
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Title: Desert Command
Author: Elmer Kelton
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 23rd October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: No, sir.

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Synopsis

A short story about desert journeys and commands.

Thoughts

I found this short story really difficult to concentrate on. I’m not sure if it was my mood, or the story just really didn’t grab my attention. I have a sinking feeling it may just be the fact that this just wasn’t my “type” of story…

Having said that. I did like the style of the writing. The skills and talent were pretty good. Just not quite what I wanted in a short story. It just didn’t quite sweep me away…

When all was said and done though. I did read this short story, and enjoyed the vivid descriptions throughout this. Maybe it’s a short story that I need to read in the future…

<- Beecher IslandThe Bandit ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Beecher Island by Wayne D. Overholser

Overview
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Title: Beecher Island
Author: Wayne D. Overholser
In: The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Jon E. Lewis)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Westerns
Dates read: 17th October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1970
5th sentence, 74th page: Damn that Forsyth!

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Synopsis

Sam is in the middle of a gunfight on Beecher Island. Will they win? Will he ever get home to the farm?

Thoughts

This was a really wonderful description of battle. It wasn’t glorious and it wasn’t filled with people with an overzealous ideal. Rather, it was all about a young lad who just wants to go home to his farm and… well, live. Partnered with the actual descriptiveness of this all. I thought that it worked quite well.

Having said that, this really wasn’t as blood thirsty and graphically intense as some of the stories I’ve been reading lately. A nice little break if I’m being honest. It created a nice story in which battle isn’t about the glory and the blood – but rather, it’s about just wanting to go home and find your own zen.

For me, ultimately, this wasn’t so much a story about war, but about the stupidity of it. This may be my own ideals coming through. But still…

<- Blood on the SunDesert Command ->

Image source: Hachette Australia