Sunday, January 20, 2013

MY FAVORITE WESTERN NOVEL by TROY D. SMITH




I kind of shy away from saying “My Favorite Western Novel” –it’s too hard to pick just one. But I can certainly say this is one of my favorite western novels of all time: The Ghost with Blue Eyes by Robert J. Randisi.

I read it when it first came out in 1999. Something about Randisi’s sparse prose and the powerful subject matter came together in a way few western novels ever have for me- on one level it was one of the most perfect examples of a traditional western (short, action-oriented, compelling), and on another level it affected me profoundly, remaining vividly in my mind ever after. It is one of those rare works –and I will probably write about others in this space, but they include Lonesome Dove –that leave me with a bittersweet feeling of the sublime, a mixture of professional admiration and intense envy. That probably sounds like hyperbole, and it probably sets the book up with unfair expectations if any of you read it after this –but that really is how I feel about it. I consider it one of the best westerns of the 1990s.
The story centers on a gunman named Lancaster. He hires himself out for protection, and one day –during a gunfight –something terrible happens. He accidentally shoots and kills a little girl. The memory of her blue eyes staring at him haunts Lancaster, to the point he becomes a drunk. Then, one day, he gets an unexpected chance at redemption:  another little girl is in danger, and her mother is killed. To keep her safe from her murderous father, Lancaster takes her to the only person he can think of –that first little girl’s mother.
And then it gets intense.
This is a darn good book, and it has a depth that few writers would be able to squeeze into 200-odd pages.
Troy D. Smith

17 comments:

  1. Certainly one of Bob's best books. There are a couple of sequels I still need to read.

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  2. Haven't read it, but certainly will now. Keep 'em coming, Troy. Well, at a reasonable pace. I never did make it all the way through that speed reading class in high school. Plus, old age holds my speed down a bit, too.

    Our little WF blog is getting all het up these days.

    charlie

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  3. This sounds really good, Troy. Another book to be bought and stockpiled for my "reading vacation"--I said I was going to do that at Christmas, but what was I thinking? LOL That storyline sounds very compelling, and with that kind of a recommendation from you, I know I'm going to enjoy it.
    Cheryl

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  4. Great book,think it desrves a reread.

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  5. GAH! Darn you, Troy! Here I'm trying to winnow down the TBR pile, and you just stacked another book on top of it. :-D

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  6. It is indeed an excellent book.

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  7. I had not read this one, but the other Lancaster books were a very enjoyable read. Favorite novels are a personal preference, but I have found that there are readers/writers whose tastes run similar to mine and I cherish their lists and insights of books a great way to add to those I will carve out time to read. Thank You.

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  8. Sounds like a great book. My favorite is Lonesome Dove.

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  9. Thanks, Troy! I have this on the shelf, but have overlooked it. Moving it up in the queue.

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  10. As I said at the outset, I have several favorites- Lonesome Dave is one also. I'll be talking in the future about others in this space (as will any other of our bloggers.)

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  11. I will put this one on my- getting longer and longer-too read list. My favorites, The Good Old Boys by Elmer Kelton and William W. Johnstone's,The First Mountain Man. I list this one because I went on to read more than two dozen more of Johnstone's Mountain Man and western books. Maybe living in Wyoming pulls me into the mountain man books. I still read three or four a year.

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  12. I've read that one, it's a good book, but my favorite's Terry C. Johnston's 'Carry The Wind'and his The Plainsman Series is my favorite series.

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  13. I've read that book, enjoyed it, but my favorite two books Terry C. Johnston's "Carry The Wind" and Dee Brown's 'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee'.

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  14. Wow, Troy, you took my breath away. Many thanks. This is one of my favorite novels of all the ones I've written. When I get a chance I'm going to make a screenplay out of it.

    RJR

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  15. I read this book years ago, and, to be honest, forgot it was Randisi who wrote it. You are right to put it at the top of the list.

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  16. I'll have to pick this one up! Thanks for the tip, Troy!!

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  17. I've been out in the snow for a couple of days and unable to keep up with posts. I'm certainly going to get a copy.
    Keith

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