Re: RARA-AVIS: Western Mysteries

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 01 Dec 2003

Bill Crider wrote:
> Thanks, miker. .44 is a really good one, a '40s noir tale set in the old
> west with all the modern elements.

************************* I thought of something else you mentioned in your article, your comment about if people are just tired of Westerns there isn't much you can do to convince them to read them.

I can't hardly name all the Western shows I remember from childhood. There was The Rifleman, Bonanza, The Rebel, Have Gun Will Travel, and Gunsmoke to name a few. Oh! I've got a story to tell! When I was still in grade school the guy down the road from us had a bird show to put on for a kid's show and I got to go along and hand him birds. Any- way, when we were at the studio I saw Nick Adams, who played Johnny Yuma, the Rebel, walk by me in the hallway fully dressed for the show. My jaw about dropped to the floor. Absolutely no one I've talked to in the last 20 years remembers that show. Man, I could even sing a few lines of the theme song before I had to start humming. I think he died a sleeping pill and alcohol death just a few years later.

Anyway, my theory is that Westerns have just slipped out of fashion, and because they were so very much in fashion a ways back, the slip has been a hard fall. I think the same thing has happened to the private detective, except I don't think the private detective ever captured the American imagination like the cowboy did. As you mentioned, there's a strong argument that the detective is a derivative of the cowboy.

Leslie Fiedler has some rather shocking theories about the origins and nature of American literature. I've been reading his LOVE AND DEATH. Sure puts a new twist on HUCKLEBERRY FINN.


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