Saddling up for a ride with American Western literature

I haven’t taken much time to read for the enjoyment of reading in the past couple of months. I’ve been so focused on trying to find a job that my reading has been limited to job-hunt advice – everyone has an opinion, especially so-called job experts – and the Facebook status updates of my friends, which has helped me maintain a certain degree of sanity while hunting up a job.

But the other evening I picked from my bookshelves a volume of Louis L’Amour novels and other tales. I am enjoying the stories.

As I recall, I picked up the two-volume set at a biannual yard sale that took place just down the street from where I was living on Alamo Drive in Vacaville, Calif. An elderly couple and their son – and I have to assume a legion of their family and friends – cleaned out closets, garages and storage facilities to provide a yard sale known to all Vacans. (Vacan is what a Vacaville resident calls him- or herself.)

Anyway, one year I walked by the book table and spotted the two-volume set and did a double-take. One was brown leather with gold lettering and gold on the edges of the pages. The second volume was green leather with the golden lettering and page edges. I had never read Louis L’Amour, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a leather-bound set that put me back less than $8.

The brown volume contains “The Tall Stranger,” “Kilkenny,” “Hondo” and “Showdown at Yellow Butte,” and had an inscription written on the inside of the front cover: “Michel – Happy 19th Birthday 9-27-88.” And it was signed, “Love, Diane & Dad.”

The second volume, the one that I am reading now, contains, “Crossfire Trail,” “Utah Blaine,” “Heller With a Gun,” “Last Stand at Papago Wells,” and “To Tame a Land.”

I had read Zane Grey and Larry McMurtry before, but not Louis L’Amour. Of course, I was familiar with some of his work that had been made into movies for TV or cinema, most notably “Hondo,” “How the West Was Won,” “Crossfire Trail,” the Sackett movies and “Conagher.”

I read the first volume years ago, but have been carrying around the other for some time waiting for a gap in other reading to crack it open. I’m glad I did, because I am enjoying the stories – right-vs.-evil-boy-gets-the-girl-in-the-end stories – and it is proving a nice diversion from the job hunt.

I don’t think the stories are for everyone. The stories are told in a pretty simple fashion, but that’s OK.

Besides, cowboy was one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up … when I was 6 or 7. Forest ranger and truck driver were two other jobs I thought when I was 6 or 7 I’d like to have when I got to be an adult.

Ah, well, a writer-editor-columnist-blogger will have to do for now.

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