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Posts tagged "westerns"

May 19, 2014
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Cormac McCarthy, All The Pretty Horses


  I wanted very much to be a person of value and I had to ask myself how this could be possible if there were not something like a soul or like a spirit that is in the life of a person and which could endure any misfortune or disfigurement and yet be no less for it. If one were to be a person of value that value could not be a condition subject to hazards of fortune. It had to be a quality that could not change. No matter what. Long before morning I knew that what I was seeking to discover was a thing I’d always known. That all courage was a form of constancy. That it was always himself that the coward abandoned first. After this all other betrayals came easily.


Thanks to @michaelschaub for the push (I’d read only the darker McCarthy: Blood Meridian, The Road, and No Country For Old Men.) On the surface, I find a lot of McCarthy terribly pretentious (no punctuation for dialogue, untranslated Spanish I can’t understand, etc.) but like the other books of his, I’ve read, the story grabbed me and I had to finish it. A pretty beautiful western.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Cormac McCarthy, All The Pretty Horses

I wanted very much to be a person of value and I had to ask myself how this could be possible if there were not something like a soul or like a spirit that is in the life of a person and which could endure any misfortune or disfigurement and yet be no less for it. If one were to be a person of value that value could not be a condition subject to hazards of fortune. It had to be a quality that could not change. No matter what. Long before morning I knew that what I was seeking to discover was a thing I’d always known. That all courage was a form of constancy. That it was always himself that the coward abandoned first. After this all other betrayals came easily.

Thanks to @michaelschaub for the push (I’d read only the darker McCarthy: Blood Meridian, The Road, and No Country For Old Men.) On the surface, I find a lot of McCarthy terribly pretentious (no punctuation for dialogue, untranslated Spanish I can’t understand, etc.) but like the other books of his, I’ve read, the story grabbed me and I had to finish it. A pretty beautiful western.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Aug 15, 2013
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Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.
— William Munny, life coach

Feb 24, 2013
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Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers

I love Westerns. I love a good story. I love 300-page books with super-short chapters. I love funny dialogue. I love narrators who digress.

I loved this book.

My wife got it for me for Valentine’s Day. I’d never heard of it. 100 pages in, I started reading it really slowly because I didn’t want it to end.

After I finished, I read some interviews with DeWitt, and found out that the novel was sort of an accident.

After his first novel, he’d been thrown off the scent of story, and was more concerned with “voice,” but he got really bored with his reading habits, and started re-reading some older favorites of his, rediscovering story as a kind of constraint. (He says now of his reading habits, “The moment it begins to feel like homework, I head for something more welcoming.”)

Then one day he scribbled “sensitive cowboys” on a piece of paper. He started thinking about how the neurotic is rarely featured in Westerns, instead, the hero is usually a “near mute man in black who kicks the devil in the dick before breakfast.”

So he wrote “a testy exchange between two men riding side-by-side on horseback. One of them was self-doubting and vulnerable, while the other was confident to a fault.” He didn’t know what to do with it, so he set it aside. Later, he found a book about the Gold Rush at a yard sale, and he remembered the two men. He wrote about forty pages before he discovered they were brothers. He says writing the dialogue “at times I felt I was eavesdropping.”

In the book, the brothers head out to kill a man named “Hermann Kermit Warm.” This character came about after DeWitt cut a photo of a prospector out of the yard sale book and tacked it up on his wall. The name however,


  I didn’t make it up. I stole it. I was watching Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and a Hermann Warm was credited as the art director. He’s got a Wikipedia page and everything. I added the Kermit, because I like the musicality of the added syllables, but really, I just lifted it.


Another fun tidbit: at some point he realized he was spending too much time on the internet, and that he’d actually never gotten a good idea from there, so he had his wife change the wifi password.

Anyways, this is the best book I’ve read so far this year. Highly recommended.

Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers

I love Westerns. I love a good story. I love 300-page books with super-short chapters. I love funny dialogue. I love narrators who digress.

I loved this book.

My wife got it for me for Valentine’s Day. I’d never heard of it. 100 pages in, I started reading it really slowly because I didn’t want it to end.

After I finished, I read some interviews with DeWitt, and found out that the novel was sort of an accident.

After his first novel, he’d been thrown off the scent of story, and was more concerned with “voice,” but he got really bored with his reading habits, and started re-reading some older favorites of his, rediscovering story as a kind of constraint. (He says now of his reading habits, “The moment it begins to feel like homework, I head for something more welcoming.”)

Then one day he scribbled “sensitive cowboys” on a piece of paper. He started thinking about how the neurotic is rarely featured in Westerns, instead, the hero is usually a “near mute man in black who kicks the devil in the dick before breakfast.”

So he wrote “a testy exchange between two men riding side-by-side on horseback. One of them was self-doubting and vulnerable, while the other was confident to a fault.” He didn’t know what to do with it, so he set it aside. Later, he found a book about the Gold Rush at a yard sale, and he remembered the two men. He wrote about forty pages before he discovered they were brothers. He says writing the dialogue “at times I felt I was eavesdropping.”

In the book, the brothers head out to kill a man named “Hermann Kermit Warm.” This character came about after DeWitt cut a photo of a prospector out of the yard sale book and tacked it up on his wall. The name however,

I didn’t make it up. I stole it. I was watching Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and a Hermann Warm was credited as the art director. He’s got a Wikipedia page and everything. I added the Kermit, because I like the musicality of the added syllables, but really, I just lifted it.

Another fun tidbit: at some point he realized he was spending too much time on the internet, and that he’d actually never gotten a good idea from there, so he had his wife change the wifi password.

Anyways, this is the best book I’ve read so far this year. Highly recommended.

Oct 02, 2011
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Once Upon A Time In The West is streaming in HD on Netflix Instant.

Snaky: …looks like we’re shy one horse.Harmonica: You brought two too many.

Probably should’ve been on my top 10 westerns list.

Once Upon A Time In The West is streaming in HD on Netflix Instant.

Snaky: …looks like we’re shy one horse.
Harmonica: You brought two too many.

Probably should’ve been on my top 10 westerns list.

Jul 20, 2011
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My 10 favorite Westerns

A multi-media list, off the top of my head:

Red Dead Redemption (video game)
Lonesome Dove (book)
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly** (film)
Deadwood (TV)
Blood Meridian (book)
Unforgiven (film)
Dead Man (film)
Firefly (TV - Space Western!)
Red Headed Stranger (album)
No Country For Old Men (film)
(Inspired by Jim Coudal’s list.)

** Really, you could put the complete Man With No Name trilogy here, plus Once Upon A Time In The West. TGTBATU is just the one I always go back to.

What are your favorites?

My 10 favorite Westerns

A multi-media list, off the top of my head:

  1. Red Dead Redemption (video game)
  2. Lonesome Dove (book)
  3. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly** (film)
  4. Deadwood (TV)
  5. Blood Meridian (book)
  6. Unforgiven (film)
  7. Dead Man (film)
  8. Firefly (TV - Space Western!)
  9. Red Headed Stranger (album)
  10. No Country For Old Men (film)

(Inspired by Jim Coudal’s list.)

** Really, you could put the complete Man With No Name trilogy here, plus Once Upon A Time In The West. TGTBATU is just the one I always go back to.

What are your favorites?

Apr 01, 2011
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I wanted that open feeling Westerns give you. They’re kind of minimalist because the landscape is so blank and stark, which means that when people appear, they stand out, and their personalities are magnified because there’s nothing much else around.

Feb 08, 2011
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"Finished" Red Dead Redemption after a few weekends glued to the XBOX. This quote sums up for me why the game is so excellent:

Westerns are about place….They’re not called outlaw films. They’re not even called cowboys-and-Indians films. They’re called westerns. They’re about geography. We’re talking about a format that is inherently geographical…and you’re talking about a medium, video games, the one thing they do unquestionably better than other mediums is represent geography.

"Finished" Red Dead Redemption after a few weekends glued to the XBOX. This quote sums up for me why the game is so excellent:

Westerns are about place….They’re not called outlaw films. They’re not even called cowboys-and-Indians films. They’re called westerns. They’re about geography. We’re talking about a format that is inherently geographical…and you’re talking about a medium, video games, the one thing they do unquestionably better than other mediums is represent geography.

Jan 29, 2011
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Americans watch Westerns, I think, in order to learn about who they are. The Old West is a land where everything is still possible.
Todd Alcott on True Grit

Jan 06, 2011
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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I can’t really remember the last time I enjoyed reading a book so much. Helluva way to start 2011.

Mark says, “One of my favorite books ever. Usually my first recommendation for people looking for something, anything to read.” 

And now it’s one of mine.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I can’t really remember the last time I enjoyed reading a book so much. Helluva way to start 2011.

Mark says, “One of my favorite books ever. Usually my first recommendation for people looking for something, anything to read.”

And now it’s one of mine.

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