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About Western Fiction
Feature settings that are evocative of a comfortable time & place but the setting can be contemporary or historical.
Story pacing is leisurely, the characters are affable, and there are no unsettling surprises.
Genial humor underlies the stories.
Relationships among the characters is emphasized rather than suspense or social issues.
The tone of the story is lightening by the characters who are comfortable companiosn and often the source of the humor.
There is no explicit sex, violence or strong language.
Awards for Western Novels
Western Writers of America annually honors writers for distinguished writing about the American West with the Spur Awards. Since 1953 the Spur Awards have been considered one of the most prestigious awards in American literature. Spurs are given for the best western historical novel, best western traditional novel, best western contemporary novel, best short story, best short nonfiction. Also, best contemporary nonfiction, best biography, best history, best juvenile fiction and nonfiction, best drama, best documentary, and best first novel as well as best first nonfiction book.
The Willa Literary Award http://www.womenwritingthewest.org/
This award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather... . Annually awarded for outstanding literature featuring women's stories set in the west, the Willa Literary Awards are chosen by distiguished panel of professional librarians. The Awards are presented at the annual WWW fall conference.
The Peacemaker Award/ http://www.westernfictioneers.com/
This award is given by the Western Fictioneers. It is the only professional writers organziation composed entirely of authors who have written Western Fiction, the classic American genre.
Well-known Western movies
Well known western movies
A list of western movie titles complete with descriptions courtesy of the Hennepin County Library system.
The History of the Western Novel
Most scholars identify The Last of the Mohicans (1826) or The Prairie (1827) by James Fennimore Cooper as the first Western novels.
The dime novels of the last 19th century, the travelogue title Roughing It (1982) by Mark Twain, and the short stories of Stephen Crane and Bret Harte also influenced the genre. The Virginian (1902) by Owen Wister is considered to be the first actual Western novel.
In the early 20th century, western novels increased in popularity, in large measure to the prolific number of novels written by Zane Grey. Louis L’Amour began publishing westerns in the 1950’s. The popularity of his work has made him one of the bestselling American authors of all time. Today, many westerns are now being marketed as historical or mainstream fiction novels.
Source: Genreflecting. Edited by Cynthia Orr and Diana Tixler Herald. Chicago: ALA, c2013.
Westerns and Historical Fiction
Friday, May 19, 2017:
Whether you are a fan of the western novel, or like works of historical fiction set in the old west these book titles can be enjoyed by both fans of both.
Huck Out West by
Publication Date: 2017-01-10
At the end of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, on the eve of the Civil War, Huck and Tom Sawyer decide to escape "sivilization" and "light out for the Territory." In Robert Coover's Huck Out West, also "wrote by Huck," the boys do just that, riding for the famous but short-lived Pony Express, then working as scouts for both sides in the war.They are suddenly separated when Tom decides he'd rather own civilization than leave it, returning east with his new wife, Becky Thatcher, to learn the law from her father. Huck, abandoned and "dreadful lonely," hires himself out to "whosoever." He rides shotgun on coaches, wrangles horses on a Chisholm Trail cattle drive, joins a gang of bandits, guides wagon trains, gets dragged into U.S. Army massacres, suffers a series of romantic and barroom misadventures.He is eventually drawn into a Lakota tribe by a young brave, Eeteh, an inventive teller of Coyote tales who "was having about the same kind of trouble with his tribe as I was having with mine." There is an army colonel who wants to hang Huck and destroy Eeteh's tribe, so they're both on the run, finding themselves ultimately in the Black Hills just ahead of the 1876 Gold Rush.This period, from the middle of the Civil War to the centennial year of 1876, is probably the most formative era of the nation's history. In the West, it is a time of grand adventure, but also one of greed, religious insanity, mass slaughter, virulent hatreds, widespread poverty and ignorance, ruthless military and civilian leadership, huge disparities of wealth. Only Huck's sympathetic and gently comical voice can make it somehow bearable.
The Sisters Brothers by
Publication Date: 2011-04-26
“A gorgeous, wise, riveting work of, among other things, cowboy noir…Honestly, I can’t recall ever being this fond of a pair of psychopaths.” —David Wroblewski, New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle “A masterful, hilarious picaresque that keeps company with the best of Charles Portis and Mark Twain…a relentlessly absorbing feat of novelistic art.” —Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned “The Sisters Brothers is dark, dark, and funny, both ha ha and strange…and you’ll love the characters you meet along the way.” —Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Patrick deWitt, a young writer whose “stop-you-in-your-tracks writing has snuck up on the world” (Los Angeles Times), brings us The Sisters Brothers, a darkly comic, outrageously inventive novel that offers readers a decidedly off-center view of the Wild, Wild West. Set against the back-drop of the great California Gold Rush, this odd and wonderful tour de force at once honors and reshapes the traditional western while chronicling the picaresque misadventures of two hired guns, the fabled Sisters brothers. The most original western since the Coen Brothers re-interpreted True Grit—you’ve never met anyone quite like The Sisters Brothers.
El Paso by
Publication Date: 2016-10-04
Long fascinated with the Mexican Revolution and the vicious border wars of the early twentieth century, best-selling author Winston Groom brings to life a much-forgotten period of history in this episodic saga set in six parts. Pitting the legendary Pancho Villa against "the Colonel," a thrill-seeking Bostonian railroad tycoon whose fading fortune is tied up in a colossal ranch in Chihuahua, El Paso opens during a time of dramatic upheaval in Mexico--its government being squeezed on one end by Villa's revolutionaries and on the other by "filthy" American capitalists.Content to observe the war from aboard his dazzling yacht, the Ajax, the Colonel is suddenly pulled into this drama when his famous Valle del Sol ranch is raided for nearly "two million and a half dollars in beef on the hoof." Oblivious to the realities of war and hoping to salvage his losses, the Colonel whisks his family down to Mexico where they make a disturbing discovery: it was Villa who not only stole the cattle but also murdered their beloved ranch manager. Even worse, Villa's henchmen abduct the Colonel's grandchildren in another daring raid only days later.Frantic, the aging patriarch and his adopted son race to El Paso, hoping to gather a group of cowboys brave enough to hunt down the generalissimo on his own turf. As the desperate Yankees quickly learn once they return to Chihuahua, their deep pockets and political clout mean next to nothing in a crumbling nation rife with communist sympathizers. After weeks of searching and with no trace of Villa, the Colonel fears all is lost--that is, until a twist of fate unites his party with that of Johnny Ollas, an aspiring matador whose wife has also been kidnapped by the marauding revolutionaries. Bloodied and battered, the two factions unite, galloping off on an extraordinary manhunt through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth: the vast and snake-ridden Sierra Madre.The novel explodes into an epic as an extraordinary cast of characters from both history and imagination begin to emerge, all vying to get their hands on the ever-elusive Villa. But no matter what prize each player ultimately seeks, no one is left unscathed in this sprawling story of heroism, injustice, and love. Replete with shootouts, daring escapes, and an unforgettable bullfight, El Paso brings to life a crucial moment in history and, in the process, becomes an indelible portrait of the American Southwest in the final days of the wild frontier.
News of the World by
Publication Date: 2016-10-04
National Book Award Finalist—Fiction It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows. Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land. Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
Publication Date: 2016-06-14
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER From Annie Proulx—the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of The Shipping News and “Brokeback Mountain,” comes her masterwork: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about the taking down of the world’s forests. In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters—barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse. Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid—in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope—that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.