Westerns

Westerns: Adult Genre Challenge #3

If you’re taking our Genre Challenge this is your opportunity to experience the uniquely American genre of Westerns.  Westerns started out as “dime novels” in the mid-19th century. Classic stories and writers helped invent how we imagine the Old West. The typical Western hero is the loner who rides into town, cleans things up, and rides out again.

Elmore Leonard (1925 - 2013)

cover art 52 Pickup

I hate that in its obituary for Elmore Leonard, the New York Times felt the need to sniff down its long, blue-blooded corporate nose, and call him “a modern master of American genre writing” [italics mine]. I’m sure no offense was intended, and I suspect Leonard wouldn’t have objected, but still, the qualification is wholly unnecessary. He was a master. Period. And the fact is, he didn’t aspire to the literary pantheon. He preferred to be read, and his influence was not limited to other "genre" writers. There are a lot of people referred to as "writer's writers," Elmore Leonard was a writer's writer's writer. He was that good. He was not only the consummate craftsman, he was a bit of a visionary. Leonard was one of those people who come along when an art form has gone a little soft, become a little too reliant on convention and its practitioners a little too pleased with themselves, who strips the form down and re-imagines it, and in so doing revitalizes the art. Elmore Leonard did that twice, for the western and then crime fiction.

If you regularly write anything more complex than a grocery list and you haven’t memorized Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing, do it now...

No, really. I'm serious. NOW

THE LIBRARY CHALLENGE

THE LIBRARY CHALLENGE One of my personal treats in the summer is participating in the Adult Summer Reading Program. I‘m not competing with anyone but myself, and I don’t set my goal too high to reach. While I do not read as much my friends and co-workers, I do enjoy reading. I have my favorite authors and do not step too far from regular fiction, romance and mystery. So in the summer, I challenge myself to read something outside of my norm. One year I read a western. I enjoyed it. Last year I tried a fiction that took place in another continent. I enjoyed that one too. This year I am going to stretch myself with a fantasy. I don’t plan to switch all my reading to a different genre, just sprinkle a little in with my regular stuff. You know, like salt and pepper, just to add a little flavor in my summer.

The Bat-Man and his Ancestors

When writer Bill Finger met artist Bob Kane at a party in 1938 he realized that he’d met a kindred spirit.  Both young men were anxious to succeed in the new publishing enterprise that was blossoming in New York at the time: comic books!  Just that year two other young men, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, had sold an idea they’d thought up in their teens to National Publications.  It was their comic strip about an extremely physically fit extraterrestrial good guy.  Superman became a publishing phenomenon, exceeding sales expectations almost faster than a speeding bullet, and National Publication wanted more. 

Bob Kane had the idea for another costumed superhero, as the genre woul

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