Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Outlaw Lovebirds

What is it about these two outlaw lovebirds, Bonnie and Clyde, that so captured the American imagination?  I remember going to see their shot-up car as a kid, parked on display at Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  I thought I could see a little blood in the backseat while hearing Estelle Parsons screaming, "My eyes!  My eyes!"

What I like most about this picture is the contrast between these two cracker hillbillies, the type you'd now see in any Waffle House near any Interstate on any given morning these days, and Warren Beatty and Fay Dunaway.  Ah, cinema.  But what I like best about the movie is the raw grit and naturalism combined with the physical beauty of the two heros.  That was a haunting flick for a kid raised on the blander TV fare of the late sixties, early seventies, and that last scene still haunts me today.

What do you suppose she's saying to Clyde as they clown for the camera and mock their trackers?

"Hand that hogleg over here, Barrows, or I'll clean out your belly button with this here ole pump-action gut-shredder.  Ha!"

Monday, December 26, 2011

Navajo Joe and "the other Sergio"

Sergio Corbucci, "the other Sergio," is one of my favorite directors.  His movies remind me of the great Gold Medal westerns put out by Fawcett books in the 50's and 60's--violent and gritty and with anvil-jawed heroes and beautiful women spilling out of their corsets.  Corbucci doesn't have the style and polish of Leoni, but he was awash in grit.  I say "awash" because in most of his movies there's a lot of mud.  (See the DJANGO flicks.)  He's also the director of possibly my favorite western movie of all time (or right up there)--THE GREAT SILENCE.

NAVAJO JOE isn't as good as SILENCE, but I love it just the same.  Burt Reynolds plays an Indian in this flick he went into thinking he was going to work with the great Leoni until he got to Italy and found himself with the other Sergio.  Burt has always said this was his worst film, but I'll be danged if I don't like it a lot.  He's very odd in it as an Indian, but I believe him as Navajo Joe, and this has got violence galore.  And some nice looking European women spilling out of their corsets.

I highly recommend it when you're sitting around waiting for a new HELL ON WHEELS, as I am...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gone to the Dogs

I thought I'd post this for kicks and giggles--my two old critters asleep on the couch in my office while I toil away at my desk, working for their chow.  The white one is Thor, the black one is his mother Stella.  They're 14 and 15, respectively.  (I've shed many tears of shame over the girl's moral character ...or lack thereof.)  I really oughta train them to make coffee and pour bourbon.  Ah, hell, best to let sleeping dogs lie.  They really love the winter sunlight angling in from over Mount Milner.

I can't forget ole Buck.  Here he is napping in my trailer when the four of us were holed up in the Arizona desert a few winters back.  He passed away a year ago last August 18th, age 13 (cancer, just like his old man, Old Shep) and we all miss the hell out of that feller.  Occasionally, I still dig up his old beef bones in the do Thor and Stella.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Last Ride of Jed Strange by Frank Leslie

The mysterious Frank Leslie--my wiser, taller, handsomer, much more loquacious, suave and saltily sophisticated alter ego--rides again in THE LAST RIDE OF JED STRANGE.  

Frank took some time off from his love affair in Europe with a bullfighter's girl to pen this one at the home of a Swedish princess on the island of Capri off the coast of Italy--at least when his friends Kate Hudson and Angelina Jolie weren't calling him back to parties in Aspen, which he of course is the life of.

There are no known pictures of Frank Leslie, so I thought I'd post one of someone who looks a lot like him though a tad less handsome.

Anyway, here is an excerpt of the book the wild old coyote channeled to me sometime last year.  It's from the beginning of the fifth chapter of the book, the first copy of which I just received from Signet.  The official publication date is January 3 but it should be in the book stores in a week or two.  I hope you'll all buy a copy, for while Frank doesn't need the money, me and my critters do!

From THE LAST RIDE OF JED STRANGE/Frank Leslie (Signet, Jan. 2012)

Colter must have passed out. 
     All he knew was that time seemed to skip ahead until he was looking around and realizing that both McKnight and Hobart were gone, and that Pres Belden lay on the ground nearby, flat on his back near the wagon’s open tailgate.  Something dark was dripping off the end of the tailgate and pooling on the ground below it, beside Belden’s head. 
     Then Colter realized what had drawn him up out of shallow unconscious--the trilling of spurs and the thudding of boots moving toward him fast.  He’d know the skip-scuff shamble of Willie Tappin anywhere.
     “Colter, what the...?”
     Colter groaned and lifted his head, trying to push himself up to a sitting position against the searing pain in his ribs.  As Willie approached dressed in buskskin pants, boots, and underwear shirt with an Army blanket thrown over his shoulders, Colter gave up and rolled onto his left hip, spitting more blood from his lips and casting his gaze toward where Belden lay unmoving near the wagon’s open tailgate.
     Willie slowed his pace and stooped to place a hand on Colter’s shoulder but then, seeing the dark hump of Belden, he stepped over Colter and continued on over to the wagon.  He dropped to a knee and placed a hand on the Lieutenant’s throat then glanced over at Colter.  “Dead.  By the way he’s layin’ I’d say his neck’s broke.”
     Colter blinked, just now beginning to comprehend what had happened.  He’d caught the Lieutenant off balance and kicked him off his feet.  His head had slammed into the tailgate as he’d gone down.  The crunching sound had been Belden’s neck breaking.  The realization slowly gathered steam in Colter’s head.
     Belden was dead.  Colter had killed him. 
     “I got up to take a piss,” Willie said, walking back over to Colter, “and I’d just stepped out of the bunkhouse when I seen two soldiers running off toward the fort, like two donkeys with tin cans tied to their tails.”
     “McKnight and Hobart.”
     “Colter, what for the love o’ Jehova happened out here?”
     “I got the shit kicked out of both ends.”
     “I see that.”
     “Somehow, I managed to give that son of a bitch one helluva a mule kick, and”--Colter leaned on an elbow and fingered his chin, still trying to remember and work it all through his mind--“and beefed the bastard.”
     “Well, beef is what he is, all right.”  Willie stared in awe at the dead lieutenant then dropped to a knee in front of Colter.  “How bad you hurt?”
     “I feel like I still have one of his boots up my ass.” 
     “You look like a bobcat done tried to drag you off down the wash for supper.” 
     Willie stared toward the main fort across about a hundred yards of desert bristling with rocks and catclaw.  The adobe brick buildings sat slouched and ash-colored in the moonlight.  The Colonel’s house was at the far right end of the parade ground--a big Victorian affair that looked as out of place here on the Arizona desert as would a peacock in a chicken coop.  No lights were on there, either. 
     Willie said, “And you’re gonna look a lot worse if you don’t get the hell out of here.”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Truman Capote: A Christmas Memory

I first read this Christmas story by Truman Capote when I was in the 6th grade in Central Junior High in Wahpeton, North Dakota.  For some reason, while I was rereading it today, I kept smelling grape bubble gum.  After some thought I remembered why.  The classroom in which I first read it, one cold December in the 70's, had one of those big old radiators to which we students used to love to stick our gum and watch it dribble down the sides while filling the air with perfume.

Anyway, this was one of those first stories I read that made me want to become a writer.  It's incredibly rich, vivid, and haunting, with a conversational, captivatingly rhythmical voice that takes you into the quiet story of the seven-year-old Capote and his much older but beloved Cousin Sook preparing for Christmas.  No one can equal the mesmerizing voice of Capote, or his skill with gritty, cinematic details, and he showed that even in a book that couldn't be more different from this story--In Cold Blood.

This story is about love and innocence without the intrusion of the outside world to take away the magic of pure love and the true meaning of Christmas.  And after I first read it all those years ago, I went down to the Carnegie Public Library in Wahpeton to find everything I could by this fella who could tell a story so richly and movingly.  All I could find was a worn copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's, and I still remember the brow the elderly librarian lady arched at me as she stamped the book's back with the due date.  I read the whole book over that Christmas vacation, and while this one was nearly as much of a departure from "A Christmas Memory" as Cold Blood was--and I doubt I really understood what was going on at that age of 12--I loved the voice and the images Capote conveyed.  And deep in my heart, on an intuitive level, I think understood Holly Golightly's loneliness, her love for lost souls and animals, and her need to escape any and all tethers while at the same time needing so desperately to belong.

I didn't know until later that Truman Capote was that small, pale, ridiculous-looking man on all the talk shows during the 70's, slurring his words and wearing big womanish hats and smoking from a long, black cigarette holder.  I still can't quite reconcile that man to the one who wrote "A Christmas Memory" and "A Thanksgiving Visitor"--or even Breakfast at Tiffany's, for that matter--but I do remember feeling bad for him and wondering why, in my young naive way, Dick Cavette and Johnny Carson kept having such a brilliant but obviously  flawed man on their shows drunk and making a fool of himself.  I just hoped, in that same naive way, that at least a fraction of the people watching had read his work and knew who he really was.

Truman Capote, long dead now, has had the last laugh.  And he'll keep on having the last laugh, because his work has and will survive.  Hell, I reread "A Christmas Memory" today and found even more to love about it than when I first read it nearly forty years ago.  And just thinking about Dick and Perry in In Cold Blood makes me quicken my steps when walking up from my basement at night.

Troubled man, amazing writer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Inestimable, the Venerable Wayne Dundee

Okay, you can maybe estimate him but be careful with what you come up with because he's as big as an NFL lineman and while I have a feeling it takes a lot to get him fighting mad, I wouldn't want to find out in person.  Wayne could do some damage.  At least, that was my sense when we met for brews and Mexican food here in Fort Collins last summer.  Fortunately, however, Wayne does most of his damage on the page.  And I mean that in a good way.  Like a sporting fighter, he saves his best blows for the ring.
Wayne Dundee has written some of the best western novels around.  Some of the best stuff I've read by anyone at any time, and I couldn't recommend him more highly.  Most of you reading this probably already know Wayne's stuff.  Or maybe you've read James Reasoner's reviews of Wayne's books and stories on his Rough Edges blog.  I agree with everything James said and won't try to compete with his eloquence.
Let me just say that Wayne Dundee is the real thing.  He writes novels the way Howard Hawks once directed films.  By that I don't mean he's old-fashioned at all.  His stories are colorful and eloquent, and while they're not always packed with action (though there is plenty of action and some tastefully rendered sex), the characters and situations leap right off the page the way Hawks's leaped off the screen.

I started with Wayne's first book, DISMAL RIVER (was happy to write a blurb for it), and I just finished HARD TRAIL TO SOCORRO.  I'll be damned if it wasn't one of the two or three best western novels I've read this year.  Not that I was all that surprised, because before Wayne started writing westerns he wrote some very well reviewed novels in the hard-boiled crime genre featuring his detective hero, Joe Hannibal, whom I understand has somewhat of a cult following among the genre's aficionados.  While I haven't read any of those books yet, they're on my list.

For now, please take my advice.  If you want to read a really terrific western novel, go over to Amazon or Smashwords or Barnes and Noble and download DISMAL RIVER and just keep on reading through all of Wayne's novels and stories so far, and you won't be disappointed.  His work is classic in the best sense of the word, and by that I mean the characters and stories are incredibly rich, multi-dimensional, and satisfying, the way that RED RIVER or RIO BRAVO were.  That said, Wayne's work moves with a contemporary narrative thrust and the smooth precision of a prose poet but with a rough, tough edge reminiscent of Mickey Spillane, whom I know Wayne admires.

It's a shame one of the larger New York houses hasn't picked up Wayne's westerns yet.  Here's hoping they will soon and that Wayne keeps hammering out these terrific stories in his home in Ogallala, Nebraska--at one time one of the rowdiest of the old-time cowtowns.  The genre needs all the good writers it can get.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ghost Colts

This is the first "weird" thing I wrote.  A paranormal short story.  And while it is a long short story, it is not a "novel" as the band across the top suggests.  Originally published in an anthology called Lone Star Law (Pocket) about six years ago, it's now being republished as an e-book by Western Trail Blazer.

And it's only a buck, so if you haven't read it, go over to Amazon or Smashwords and throw my dogs a bone!

Here's the cover copy:

Ranger Tim Armstrong seeks shelter from a Texas snowstorm with his injured prisoner, Renfrow. Half a dozen men, a pretty young woman, and a boy watch as he slings the unconscious desperado over his shoulder and totes him to a room in the saloon's second story. 

As the night deepens and the storm worsens, the Ranger keeps watch for the trouble he suspects is behind him. When Renfrow's gang shows up, adding a lead storm to the blizzard, the Ranger gets help of a most unusual sort.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yakima Henry is Stirring

If you walk about a quarter-mile above my house, you get a great view of where Yakima Henry, the character I write under my Frank Leslie name, is right now holed up with a beautiful Indian gal.  Her name is Quiet Bird.  She resembles an otherworldly hypbrid of Claudia Cardinale, Sharon Tate, and Raquel Welch.  Those hump-backed mountains in the far distance are the Mummy Range, and that's where Yakima is holed up in a little log cabin surrounded by mossy rocks and pines and a little, frozen creek...with Quiet Bird.

Only, Quiet Bird is not so quiet anymore.  Yakima is getting tired of the girl.  It was fun for the first few days, but she's becoming a harpy, as they so often do.  She wants him to split more wood, pick up his beer cans, and use the privy.  She's tired of all the yellow snow around the stoop.

Yakima is getting restless.  He needs another adventure.  He told me so last night in a dream.  "Hey, partner," he said, nudging my shoulder.  "Get me out of here, will you?  Let's hit the trail.  Hey, why don't you take me down to Mexico again?  How about an adventure amongst the balmy breezes on the Sea of Cortez?  Why don't you bring a ruthless band of cutthroats in here to kill Quiet Bird and I'll go crazy and track 'em south to warmer country?  How'd that be?"

Me:  "All right.  Just let me finish up this house book I'm still hammering on, and then I'll see what I can do come the first of January.  I already got a title, the first of three more in the planning.  But I sorta wanted to set it in Dakota Territory during a January snowstorm.  You're out there in the subzero temps trudging through snow and fighting wolves of both the human and animal brand?  How's that sound?"


"Yakima?  Hey, Yakima!  How does Thunder in the Snow sound?!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Waltons Homecoming: A Christmas Story

I remember watching this made-for-tv movie the first time with my grandmother, Lottie, in her chilly trailer in Rugby, North Dakota during a particularly chilly Dakota November.  I loved it then watching with Grandma, and I love it now.  I watch it whenever it's on, and just in case it doesn't come on television this year--it's gotten really hard to find in these more jaded reality-tv times--I just ordered my own copy from Amazon.

I believe this is the movie, or one of the two including Spencer's Mountain, that preceded The Waltons television series.  I enjoyed the series as a kid--of course, wanting to be a writer, I identified with John-Boy--but this Christmas special is heads and shoulders above the regular t.v. series.  It's grittier, harder-edged, and it more truthfully depicts poverty in Appalachia during the Depression or anywhere in rural America, including my own home state of North Dakota.

The best thing about it is Patricia Neal as Olivia.  I love Patricia Neal in everything, and I especially love her here, where she brings such a tough sturdiness and an admirable lack of sentimentality to the role while Olivia's obvious love for her family burns bright within her.  But she's tough because she has to be, they all have to be, for death and destruction are just beyond the timbered door.  And when her husband, John Sr., played by the great Andrew Duggan, doesn't make it home when expected from the city where he's had to take work to support their family, she sends her oldest son, John-Boy played by Richard Thomas, out into a snowstorm looking for him.

Cleavon Little is also terrific as the preacher of a black church who brings John-Boy in out of the storm and gives him a big dose of spirit just when his own is beginning to wane.

THE HOMECOMING is great story well-acted with a heartfelt and not overly sentimental message about spirit, pride, faith, toughness, and the bonds of family.  I have a knot in my throat just thinking about John-Boy opening up his single Christmas package under the tree and finding a whole passel of Big Chief writing tablets!

I can hear Grandma sniffing into her tissues even as I write this, and feel that hard knot in my own throat...

[Stay tune for more of this sentimental sap's holiday favorites...]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Valdez is Coming

I've been watching this on the Westerns channel of late, and it's another of my favorites.  Burt Lancaster plays the lone hero from the Elmore Leonard novel wonderfully--a Mexican American sheriff who is tricked into killing a man and leaving the man's Indian wife a widow.  All he wants is a hundred dollars from the men who tricked him so that he can get the dead man's wife back to her people.

When he goes asking politely for the money, he's beaten up and tied to a cross which he hauls across the desert on his back in one of the best torture scenes in all of western cinema.  You'd think Valdez would want revenge for that, wouldn't you?  Nope.  He still just wants the one hundred dollars for the dead man's wife.

And how gets it is very satisfying indeed.

In the "now for something entirely different" category, I've heard this Longarm, due out in a couple of weeks, is dang good, as well.  The writer tells me that all the friendly encounters are based on personal experience, but if you knew the jake like I do, you'd never believe a word he says!

(Still, I got a feelin' the book ain't half bad and might even be worth reading.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Man from Snowy River!

Call me a romantic freakin' fool, but god how I love this western!

And it's not even a Western-western, it's an Aussie western directed by the great George Miller!

Yeah, I know.  I should like RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY or THE WILD BUNCH or at least SHANE  better, but damnit I just don't.  This one has it all--romance, a beautiful black horse snorting vapor at the full moon, a score that makes a grown man sob, and Kirk Douglas in a double roll as an asshole rancher and the twin brother whose leg the asshole rancher shot off because Spurr was caught in a romantic tryst with the money-grubbing asshole's wife...

And great mountain scenery and a young hero with a tragic past who's persecuted because he's one of the "mountain people" and yet isn't accepted by the "mountain people" because he hasn't proved himself.  Yet.

And a beautiful but strong girl who needs recusing by the tragic hero on a lonely cliff in the middle of nowhere.  I mean, dangit, it brings a fella to tears!

This is it--everything a movie should be and so few aren't.  A truly great western and my number one favorite.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Snowy Piazza

It's snowing here in the Rockies.  That's my piazza where I drink beer, wrestle with my snarling curs, and grill the bears and wildcats I stalk and kill in the ravine out yonder...just me and my bowie knife...and where I have solved many of the world's problems (if only the world would listen!).

And it's still coming down.

Oh, well, I have plenty of beer, and I just finished a new Frank Leslie book, the first in a new series about Confederate treasure hunters in Old Mexico, so I'll get by.  Some unsuspecting bruin might even wander by, and I'll have fresh meat to grill out on the old piazza tonight.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Interview at Manga Maniac Cafe

Here's an interview I did at Manga Maniac Cafe, mostly talking about my upcoming "weird" western novel (January)--DUST OF THE DAMNED, about my studly "wolfer" Uriah Zane hunting werebeasts with the lovely Angel Coffin and the less lovely and somewhat annoying Jesse James, and sparking witches an' such.

Let me assure you that no drugs aside from PBR were abused during the writing of this novel...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It Takes an Englishman (and Peckinpah)

I feel like an ambulance chaser.  I went to see the modern version of this brilliant movie today merely to see the gore.  Not the gore in the movie.  Gore in movies I became inured to after seeing THE EXORCIST when I was 12 and then had to get up early the next morning--January in Wahpeton, North Dakota, 42 below--to deliver papers all by myself in the bone-chillingly cold darkness with every adult in town, including my own parents, sleeping off hangovers incurred at the Elks Club the night before.  Believe me, I replayed the green barf and levitation scenes so many times in my head that by the time I was done plowing through hip-deep snowdrifts, my brain was as numb as my toes.

No, the gore I'm talking about here is the gore of another bad Hollywood remake.  This time a remake of one of my favorite Peckinpah movies.  Yep, they screw it up bad.  Really bad.  This one should have been titled THE DUKES OF HAZARD MEETS HOLLYWOOD 90210.

It's just so freakin' unimaginative and predictable.  Oh, crackers, of course!  Why didn't Peckinpah think of using the crackers so much closer to home as villains than those toothless, stout-swilling Brits!

The original is one of the few movies that really got under my skin in a nasty way, and stayed there.  It's one of those "taboo" type movies that grabs every male watching it by the balls, and squeezing hard by asking:  "What would you do, mate?"

This one doesn't ask any of those questions.  The rape scene, so powerful in the original movie because we know she likes it and is really wondering what life would have been like with the guy currently raping her and feeling a little disappointed that she hadn't married the idjit but also hating herself for, at the same time, having an orgasm...well, here it's just another rape scene.  We've seen 'em before a million times.  And all the power is drained out of this one by the quick-cutting between the rape and her weak-tit husband lugging a 30.06 around in the woods.  The rifle's almost bigger than he is, of course.  More the size of a certain appendage of the fella currently enjoying himself in his home...

I just hope no kitties or bambis were hurt in the making of this boring piece of crap.  Because not one deer deserved to die.  (Don't force me to join PETA!)  Now, the humans--I hope they suffered.  Especially James Woods.  I hope his indigestion after chewing every bit of scenery within sight stays with him a long, long time.

That'd make ole Sam smile.

Let me sum up my review of this moronic sack of burning dog doo by making this observation, which I feel fully qualified to make:

No true American redneck would have enough initiative to wreak this much havoc.

It takes an Englishman.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pulp Writer

This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year--an autobiography by a writer who wrote for the pulp magazines of the 30's and 40's.  Mostly western pulps, but Paul S. Powers wrote a little bit of everything.

I have to admit that I have not yet read any of Powers's fiction--I have the recent collection of his short work, RIDING THE PULP TRAIL, on the way--but I found his autobiography a real gem.  It's written in a simple, rather charming style that seems very contemporary though it was written back in the 40's.  It's full of colorful anecdotes illustrating the tough row that Powers hoed on his way to becoming a published writer in that harrowing economic period of the last century.  After growing up in Kansas, he lived the hard life of the working writer, roaming the Southwest, as fiddle-footed as any Western hero.

Powers leaves a lot out of this memoir--his bouts with alcohol and depression, family feuds, failed marriages--but his granddaughter, Laurie Powers, fleshes all that out in her introduction, which, believe me, does not at all smack of hero-worship as you might expect from a granddaughter writing about her grandfather.  (And, truth be told, makes me a little glad I don't have any grandchildren myself!)  She is sometimes disarmingly frank about his problems.  ("Grandpa, from what I knew, was erratic, moody, and withdrawn...")  And to my mind she a little unfairly compares him to his more "gregarious" and "successful" brother, George, who became a psychiatrist, but I reckon that's my own toes feeling stepped on.  If he'd been gregarious, he'd likely have never been a writer...

Laurie also explains how she discovered her grandfather's work in the first place a long time after his death in 1971.  Both her introduction and Powers's memoir together reveal the complex life a very complicated, troubled, and amazing man.  It also depicts how he and his family both suffered for his craft.

Other writers like myself can probably empathize and sympathize better than anyone else.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Great, Overlooked Western--Jason Kilkenny's Gun

I do so much reading, sometimes wading, through so much fiction and nonfiction that I sometimes forget what truly great writing looks like.

When I read this over-the-top wonderful western novel, first published by Tower Books back in 1981, with a cover that did nothing to set it off from the rest of the pack so was promptly forgotten, I was reminded that words and sentences in the hands of a great or near-great writer can pack the wallop of a quick-jabbing boxer.  Good writing is hard to define, but you know it when you read it.  You sort of hold the book a little tighter, and all the sights and sounds of the world beyond the book grow dimmer and quieter, and you feel the throb of life a little deeper in your bones.  (Now, that's an interactive medium--screw the video games!)  And it makes me, at least, want to try to write half that well myself!

JASON KILKENNY'S GUN has a theme similar to that of SHANE--a young man's hero-worship of an older man good with his shooting irons.  Only, JASON KILKENNY'S GUN is better than SHANE.  It's rawer, meaner, more humane, more intense, and more emotional and violent than SHANE.  It grabs you by the throat and it makes you grit your teeth while you wait to see what happens between the boy Josh, his father and his uncle and the brutal bounty hunter, Rance Savage, who rides so unexpectedly into their lives and changes them all forever.

In SHANE, we pretty much know what's going to happen, don't we?  I mean, it's Disney.  In this book, we don't.  And we're damn worried.  JASON KILKENNY is a cross between George Stevens and Sam Peckinpah with a good dose of the existential grittiness of DEADWOOD tossed in.

Here's how well Kit Prate (who's a woman, I feel compelled to add) handles violence.  It's an example of the fine writing from an intense scene (from the "teaser" at the front of the original Tower publication:

Josh rose up from his chair.  He stood, transfixed, watching Savage.  The manhunter was talking, his voice soft, and as he talked, the other men at the bar began to back away.  And then there was only Savage; Savage and the cowhand.

The cowboy panicked.  He reached out suddenly with his right hand, sweeping the glass from the bar.  "You ain't takin' me, Savage.  Goddamn you!  You ain't takin' me!"  He backed up half a step, his left hand dropping to his holster.

The cowhand never completed the draw.  Savage reached out with his left hand, smashing the whiskey bottle against the bar.  Savage's massive right hand closed tight around the cowpuncher's gun arm.  Forcefully, he pulled the man to him, as if he were lifting a rag doll.

There was a scream.  Sudden, high-pitched, like an animal in great pain.  There was a growing circle of red on the cowboy's shirt; bright red, just above his belt buckle.

Here's how she handles sex between the young man, Josh, and a whore.  *(To warn the squeamish, this is vivid!)*

The gates opened.  He emptied himself, pouring his seed into the girl, onto the crumpled sheets.  Again and again, the length of his stubborn hardness tingling with the same torturously pleasant itch of a thousand miniature electrically charged fingers.  It was even better than before; more intense.

Satisfying.  He withdrew himself and rolled off the girl, welcoming the feel of the mattress at his back.  He was at once exhausted and completely exhilarated.

The girl sat up, searching among the blankets for her clothing.  Her hand disappeared beneath the coverlet, and she laughed, withdrawing the bottom half of the boy's longjohns.

They dressed in silence, suddenly shy at their nakedness, their backs to each other.  Josh felt the girl's fingers on his neck, and he leaned into her touch.  "Leona," she said, working the curl at his ear between her fingers.  "My name's Leona."  She was quiet again, stroking his neck.  "I want you to come again, boy."  She laughed then, muffling the sound with her closed hand as she realized the double meaning in her words.  It was no lie.  She did want him to come again.  To her.  In her.  "You hear me, boy?"

Damn, that's good.  Ain't it fun to read a good book?!

JASON KILKENNY'S GUN is, for my money, one of the four or five best westerns ever written, and Kit Prate, who lives in Wisconsin with her kids and grandkids and will admit to not being a spring chicken anymore, deserved to be more prolific and would have been if she hadn't had to work a more dependable and predictable job to feed her family.  Well, now she's retired from the BIA, and I hope she continues to give us more books like JASON KILKENNY.  You can find most of her stuff, including another great one LONG RIDE TO LIMBO, published by Western Trail Blazer, on Amazon.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Whoever Wrote This Longarm Oughta Be Hanged!

Or is it "whomever?"  Anyway, he needs to be hanged!  Or so his ex-wife has often said though she also maintains that hanging would be too good for him...whoever the poor devil is....

But you can get your hot-off-the-press copy today!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

C.L. Moore Takes it to the House!

Sorry about that, but it's football season, and while I don't care for the game the way it's played on both the pro and college levels anymore--it's an over-hyped business not a game!--I do tend to have the games on, and the lingo infiltrates my brain.  But this post is about the late, great C.L. Moore, whom I've been rereading lately.

Catherine L. Moore was probably the first woman to write over-the-top sword and sorcery stories, and she was a contemporary of Robert E. Howard's, publishing her own equally great pulp in Weird Tales back in the 30's and 40's.  I like Howard a lot, but I think I like Moore even better because, as written on the back cover of the Planet Stories edition of her Northwest Smith yarns: "Moore revealed a vast imagination, beautifully descriptive prose, and a throbbing sensuality rarely matched by her male counterparts."

That's not an exaggeration.  I read her most famous Northwest Smith tale again last night--"Shambleau"--and sat marveling at the nimble way she fashioned sentences, bringing scenes and emotions to dazzling life.  These are essentially westerns set on Mars and Venus and other planets as they were imagined back in the pulp days, but they're westerns with an otherwordly eroticism and mystical charm that no one ever did better than Catherine L. Moore.


Thursday, September 1, 2011


I and my alter ego, Frank Leslie, each have a book out around now. One is another Cuno Massey novel--the first one of which is being developed into a feature film by several different production companies--and the second is a tale about half-breed drifter, Yakima Henry, named with a nod to the legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jim Tully Bio Highly Recommended!

Due to sloth and general wretchedness, I haven't updated this blog in a while.  But I'm going to try to write something at least once a week.  Mostly I'm going to mention good books I've read or movies I've seen.  And here's one I just finished last night and thoroughly enjoyed--JIM TULLY: AMERICAN WRITER, IRISH ROVER, HOLLYWOOD BRAWLER by Paul. J. Bauer and Mark Dawidsiak, with a foreword by Ken Burns.

Tully was hardboiled before anyone, including Hammett and Hemingway, even knew what that meant.  He wrote sentences the way Mike Tyson punched, and they leave you reeling.  He wrote some wonderful books, most of which have been reprinted in handsome trade paperbacks by the Kent State University Press.  My favorites are SHANTY IRISH and THE BRUISER--one of the best boxing books I've ever read.  One of the best novels of any kind I've read, period.  Another good one of his that was banned before it could even be published is LADIES IN THE PARLOR.

But he also lived one hellofan interesting life, and this biography, TULLY, set in the early part of the last century, which includes a wonderful anecdote of Tully's myth-dispelling meeting with his hero Jack London, is gripping.