Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Max Brand is, as the cover of this novel states, the most celebrated western writer in the world. Hmm...
If this implies Max Brand is the best western writer of all time, I may have to disagree.
I've been reading a lot of Louis L'Amour lately and there is no comparison. This book was lacking the whole western atmosphere. The cowboy lingo, the descriptions of hot deserts, and the countless gunfights. It lacked the galloping pace L'Amour sets and is left in the dust.
For eg. Peter Blue is a legendary gunfighter whose draw hand has been shot. In an attempt to avoid future gunbattles, which he is sure to lose, he hides out in a shack overlooking some trees and a meadow. He ends up falling in love with the local sheriff's daughter and befriending a near senile old timer who likes to plow fields all day...where is the action I say? Eventually, after what seems like a hundred pages, there is a small skirmish that leads to a duel. The duel is to happen...oh, in another hundred pages. Finally, in the last few pages of this novel Peter Blue comes barreling into town shootin' with his left hand.
That's it. No dusty deserts, no saloon brawls, and only two small gun fights.
Not what I expected from a 'Western'. I expect more action, at least twenty shot up bad dudes, and maybe a mention of a cactus or a tumbleweed. Now, it's not that Brand is a bad writer, I wouldn't have made it through the book if he was, it's just that it lacked that Western flair. Maybe it was this particular book? Maybe it was me? I'll try more Max Brand at some point, but, I wouldn't recommend Peter Blue to any of my friends.


Monday, December 17, 2012


(Sackett's #9)

Why is it that good hearted cowboys always seem to get dragged into trouble by dark hearted women?
This is another novel where one of the Sackett boys goes out of his way to help a lady and ends up in a whole heap o' trouble - gunfights, suicidal desert crossings, saloon brawls, etc - because of her. This time Tell helps out a lady named Dorinda. She looks innocent enough at the beginning. Just a lady who needs some help getting to California. It quickly turns into a situation where Tell and this lady are high tailing it across the open desert being chased by some hired thugs. After almost dying of thirst Tell is shot at and almost killed. Through a chance encounter with some good natured bandits he manages to survive. But, of course, he feels there is some unfinished business with this Dorinda lady and the roughnecks that left him for dead in the desert. There was more to this story that needed explained to him.
Well, it turns out this lady was connected with a former pirate (now that's a twist!)...who was thought to have a treasure chest full of coins buried along the coast somewhere. Along with this pirate, there were a mittful of petty criminals and gunfighters that seem to be written into the story just to get shot by Tell.
Through a turn of events Tell ends up helping this former pirate. First he helps him find his gold and then helps rid his house of turncoats (Dorinda being one of them). He does this out of the goodness of his heart. In the process Tell has a run in with one of his kin, a distant relative of the Sackett clan from out east.
In the final scene Tell is surrounded by a crowd of the pirate's former gang, all mean nasty characters who all have it in their heads to finish off Tell. That is when, as put very eloquently on the Jerry Springer show - 'blood is thicker', that distant relative of Tell rides in to save the day.

I really like these Sackett books. In this one you really get to like Tell Sackett. There is not a mean, arrogant, egotistical bone in his body. He is all gentleman. Yet, that is what makes many of his lines sound a bit farcical. Most of his lines are deadly serious, especially when he comments on human nature or his indepth knowledge of the desert. If you have a strong humour streak, like me, there are many times when you read something Tell says and slip in sarcasm mode...for eg. He describes himself as, "big raw-boned mountain boy, rougher than a cob and standing six feet three inches in my socks, with hands and shoulders fit to wrassle mustang broncs or ornery steers, but no hand with womenfolks". So, serious, yet if viewed through the sarcasm spectrum it is hilarious...' his socks", come on, that is funny!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


(Writing tips from a naive writer)


So, don't quote me, but, shouldn't a writer be able to describe things in:

a) many ways,
b) multiple ways,
3) a variety of ways,
iv) a plethora of ways, 
E) an indefinite number of ways,
-....) in Morse code perhaps?

The Thesaurus is your friend.
So is: a wacked way of looking at the world, an out of the box thinker, and a working knowledge of at least five languages (sign language is included).