My usual reply when someone asks me to name my favorite Western novel is generally, "Anything by Louis L'Amour." I realize that is a pretty broad answer considering the volume of work he published, but I never met a Louis L'Amour novel or story that I didn't like.
There's a lot of good ones and it's near 'bout impossible to pick just one. My favorites of his characters are Tell Sackett, Milo Talon and Lance Kilkenny. I really like The Sackett Brand because it embodies the attitude that I have toward family and I love all of the Kilkenny novels. The idea of a lone gunfighter who saves the day and rides off into the sunset is iconic for anyone one who loves the Western genre.
However, if I'm going to have to pick just one, then I'd say my favorite Western novel is Flint by Louis L'Amour. This is a novel that has everything.
The man who assumes the name of Jim Flint is an orphan who came from nothing due to the kindness of a stranger and had everything in life, only to abandon it all. He finds love in an unexpected place and decides he wants to live again.
As a youngster, this story had a huge impact on me because Flint was the kind of man that I wanted to be. A man capable of taking care of himself, yet wanting more out of life than living it alone. He was a somewhat flawed man who overcame his hurdles by helping other people. It is a story of hope.
Yet with all Louis L'Amour stories, Flint if full of great quotes that illustrate the author's perspective on life.
"He had come to New Mexico wanting no trouble. He had wanted no trouble at Horse Springs, wanted none on North Plain, but long ago he had discovered that one has to make a stand. If a man has to run, there is nothing to do but keep running. And if a man must die, he could at least die proud of his manhood. It was better to live one day as a lion than a dozen years as a sheep."
That quote is by far one of my favorites in all of literature and one of the best of L'Amour's lines, and he has a lot of great ones.
Flint is a novel that I highly recommend. I've lost count of the number of times that I've reread it. As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to crack it open again.
Matthew is the editor and webmaster of The Western Online, a magazine dedicated to everything Western and can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter @mattpizzolato.
For a long time FLINT was my favorite L'Amour novel. TO TAME A LAND is at the top of my L'Amour list now, but barely. FLINT is a fine, fine novel. I sort of feel like reading it again, too.ReplyDelete
By the way, that's a good Bama cover on the edition pictured.ReplyDelete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Besides being one of L'Amour's best novels, it is also probably his most descriptive. His perspective of 1870s New Mexico west of Albuquerque to Grants is richly picturesque from the Volcanic landscapes to the trail dust left behind from the horses.ReplyDelete
Now I'll have to read it again! It's been years. I remember that I loved the book but don't remember the story. Thanks for bringing this book to our attention. Of course, now you need to email me some time to read it.ReplyDelete
That Bama cover matches the covers he did for Bantam for the Big Jim books. He used the same hat.ReplyDelete
FLINT has always been my favorite L'Amour novel, as well.ReplyDelete
Matt, I haven't read Flint yet.ReplyDelete
I'm gonna get a copy though.
Thanks for the post.
Matt, I have such good memories of the L'Amour books because I didn't discover them until I was an adult, and as I'd read them I'd give them to my dad, who was always a voracious reader. He got hooked on them and was reading them faster than I was. So I just gave him all the ones I had and let him pass them back to me when he was done with them. We had lots of good conversation about those books and both loved them. I don't think I read Flint yet. When he passed away I just put the ones aside that I hadn't read and have not gone back to them. Maybe it's time now. Flint looks like a wonderful story, and I love that cover! Happy Easter!ReplyDelete
FLINT is definitely a favorite L'Amour novel. My top two, CONAGHER and FLINT, go back and forth depending on which one I'm reading.ReplyDelete
I have always been vocal about my love of this particular book. Have read it six times and counting. The other L'Amour books are great reads, but for some reason, and it may well be your statements concerning the books impact, the story stays with you.ReplyDelete
Like most of us, L'Amour is one of my favorite writers. Saw his land in SW Colorado a few years back. Cabin is too far off the road to see it.ReplyDelete
Only L'Amour character I didn't really like was Texas Ranger Chick Bowdrie. Reason for that is Bowdrie didn't like his horse. So, of course I didn't like Bowdrie.
Add to my ever growing list of reads!ReplyDelete
Always liked FLINT and it would be in my top five as well.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the recommend, Matt. Will have to look that one up.ReplyDelete