Archive for the ‘Western’ Category

Brimstone

September 26, 2012
Author: Robert B. Parker
Title: Brimstone
Genre: Western
Publication Date: May 5th 2009
Number of Pages: 304 pages or 5 hours and 5 minutes on 4 CD’s
Geographical Setting: Texas, United States
Time Period: 19th Century American West
Series (If applicable): Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch; book 3
Plot Summary: The third book in the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series, followings the two gun-men for hire to Brimstone. After finding Virgil’s sweetheart Allie French in a brothel the three decide to start life over in the town of Brimstone. Cole and Hitch are hired on as two deputies to keep the peace in town. Things get shaky as Brother Percival sets out to shut down all the saloons in town and help Allie become a changed woman. A strange Indian appears and kidnaps two women. Pike the owner of Pike’s Palace (the best saloon in town) is not taking any of Percival’s nonsense and intends on staying in business. Can the two deputies keep the peace before anyone gets hurt? Or is murder and gunfights inevitably in the near future? With deals gone wrong, lovers gone astray and men working for both sides, this western novel has something in it to please everyone.
Subject Headings: Former Lovers; Contract Killers; Triangles (Interpersonal relations); Houses of prostitution; Redemption; Change (Psychology); Murder; Violence in men; Gunfights; Protectiveness in men; Small town life—The West (United States); Cole, Virgil; Hitch, Everett
Appeal: Gritty, Fast-paced, Lawmen, Cowboys, Indians, Small Western towns, Gunfights, Men-Friendships, First-Person Narrative, Dialog Driven, Character Detailed, Detailed Setting
3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Gunfights, Character Detailed, First-Person Narrative
Three Fiction Read-a-likes:
1. The Sisters Brothers (May 2011) by Patrick deWitt
This fast-paced, darkly humorous western follows the two guns for hire, Eli and Charlie Sister on a mission to kill Herman Kermit Warm. As told through Eli’s narration, along the way the men encounter many adventures some involving a bear and Indians. Like Brimstone this novel is told in First-person narrative and involves the story of two guns for hire.
2.  The Virginian: a horseman of the plains (Apr 2002) by Owen Wister
The first true western written, this story follows the life of a cowboy on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. With episodes of violence, hate, revenge, friendship and romance, you get a feel of what life was like back in the 19th century. Containing many of the same elements as Brimstone it would be an interesting look at the first western written and how it paved the way for future stories to unfold.
3. The Palo Duro Trail (Nov 2004) by Jory Sherman
A man hired to move 4,000 cattle along the Palo Duro Trail faces many obstacles along the way, including; harsh weather, Comanches and a hired killer. Like Brimstone both characters in these books deal with Native Americans and others who want to kill them.
Three Nonfiction Read-a-likes:
1. Wyatt Earp: the life behind the legend (Sep. 1997) by Casey Tefertiller
Using primary sources and personal accounts by people who knew Wyatt Earp, Casey Tefertiller tries to tell the true story of the legendary lawman. What really happened at Tombstone, Arizona during that famous gunfight? With elements of true history involving real men of the law, you can see first hand what a marshal would be up against, just like what Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch experienced.
2. Draw: the greatest gunfights of the American West (2003) by James Reasoner
In this book myths and legends of Hollywood do not apply. Only the truth on how those who lived to serve the law, fight the law and died by the gun are told. Like the gunfights in Brimstone this book details real life gunfights of the west.
3. Tough towns: true tales from the gritty streets of the old west (Nov 2006) by Robert Barr Smith
Citizens living in small western towns banned together to fight against lawbreakers and protect their towns. Like Brimstone this books tells the tales of small towns and the people who became heros in their own time.
Name: Madison Gailus
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Where the River Runs

September 26, 2012

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Author: Richard S. Wheeler

Title: Where the River Runs

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1990

Number of Pages: 180

Geographical Setting: The West (United States)

Time Period: 1840s

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Jedediah (Jed) Owen leads a group of twelve men on a mission to bring peace to the Indian nations. After leaving from Fort Leavenworth and traveling through the Missouri River to Fort Union on the American Fur Company steamboat, they disappear. Jed’s journey in the wilderness includes viewing the deaths of all of the other members of his group, surviving the trip and dealing with Indians along the way. Several months pass by; not hearing from Jedd, his fiancée Susannah St. George goes on a mission to find him. Susannah hires Jean Gallant, who works for the American Fur Company; to help find her fiancée. She knows that he is somewhere out there. The book explores the journeys of Jedd and Susannah in this book about love in the Wild West.

Subject Headings: missing persons; wilderness survival; Indians of North American; scouting (reconnaissance), Piegan Indians; pioneer women; the forties (19th century); nineteenth century

Appeal: colloquial, descriptive, detailed setting, dramatic, fast-paced, homespun, investigative, menacing atmosphere, multiple points of view, nostalgic, romantic, rural

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: menacing atmosphere; nostalgic; romantic

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

-De Voto, Bernard Augustine, 1897-1955, Across the Wide Missouri (fur trade in middle 1800s, information on the American Fur Company)

-Dary, David, The Oregon Trail: an American saga (describes the difficult travels and lives of groups of people traveling through the Wild   West)

-DeLay, Brain 1971- War of a thousand deserts: Indian raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (describes tension between Americans and Indians in 1840s, explains the economic and societal state U.S. in 1840s)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

-Zollinger, Norman, Meridian: A Novel of Kit’s Carson’s West (set in 1840s, conquest of the west)

-Blevins, Winfred, So wild a dream (adventure to the west in frontier west)

-Compton, Ralph, The Shadow of a noose (brothers have mission looking for sister, brothers get into trouble on the way)

Name: Samantha Biegel

The Proving Trail

September 26, 2012

Author: Louis L’Amour

Title: The Proving Trail

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1978

Number of Pages: 215

Geographical Setting: The main character travels through multiple states, including Texas, Colorado, and Kansas.

Time Period: Late 1800s

Plot Summary:  This is a suspenseful tale of crime and corruption in the American West. Kearney McRaven was only a teenager when his father was killed after he had won a lot of money while gambling. He was determined to solve his father’s murder and keep his father’s winnings. This lead McRaven on a cross-country journey of self-discovery to search for information related to his family history and why it seemed like his father was previously running from someone that had attempted to kill him.  Through out this journey Kearney McRaven had to learn to stay alive while out running these same outlaws that had murdered his father.

Subject Headings: Western stories, Outlaws, Murder

Appeal terms:  action-oriented, investigative, menacing atmosphere, fast-paced, chilling, gritty, plot-centered, explicitly violent, tragic, foreboding, details of frontier life, well-crafted

Three appeal terms: action-oriented, investigative, menacing atmosphere

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction:

West Texas Kill by Johny D. Boggs: This work is about fighting outlaws and corruption in Texas.

Hard Luck Money by J.A. Johnstone: This is a tale about solving a murder and fighting outlaws.

The Badger’s Revenge by Larry D. Sweazy: This story questions why outlaws want to seek revenge against the main character while he tries to stay alive.

Non-Fiction:

Big Trouble: a Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America by J. Anthony Lukas: This is a non-fiction book about a real murder in America’s west.

Sacagawea’s Nickname: Essays on the American West by Larry McMurtry: This is a non-fiction book of essays written by a well-known author of Western fiction.

Gunfighter Nation: the Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth Century America by Richard Slotkin: This is a non-fiction book that examines the influence of the frontier myth on American culture and politics.

 Name: Rachel Fischer

Brimstone

August 8, 2012

Author: Robert B. Parker, Audiobook read by Titus Welliver

Title: Brimstone (3rd book in Appaloosa trilogy)

Genre: Western

Publication Date: May 5, 2009

Number of Pages: 304 (Paperback), 4. 5 Hours (Audio Book)

Geographical Setting: The West (United States), New Mexico, Texas

Time Period: Old West: Early to Mid 1800’s

Series: Book 3 of Western Appaloosa Trilogy

Plot Summary: In this follow up to Parker’s Appaloosa and Resolution, we meet up with Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, two gun-slinging old friends who have a reputation for cleaning up towns as lawmen-for-hire. In this adventure, Virgil seeks to find the woman who stole his heart in the town of Appaloosa, Allie French. Moving across New Mexico and Texas, Cole and Hitch find Allie and the three try to start over in Brimstone. Things are not that easy as too much has happened between Allie and Virgil. The town of Brimstone also has its problems which Cole and Hitch are hired to solve as town deputies. Tricky solutions are their specialty one of which ties together the book wonderfully. The dialogue and friendship between Cole and Hitch makes this story more character-driven and along with the gun-slinging showdowns, mysterious murders, and fast-paced action, makes for a wonderful western.

Subject Headings: Western stories; Friendship — men; Small town life – The West (United States); Gunfights; Murder; Redemption

Appeal: Character-driven, Exciting, Suspenseful, Fast-paced, Multiple plot lines, Atmospheric, Series characters, Descriptive, Detailed setting, Rural, Friendship story, Well-drawn characters

3 Terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced, Exciting, Character-driven western

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters by Bill O’Neal

True facts and stories as well as myths and folklore about 225 well known gun-slingers and those all but forgotten. A book for those wondering what it was really like to be a gunslinger in the Wild West like Virgil and Everett.

2) Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn by Evan S. Connell

For those readers looking for more information on the historical events of the Wild West in a form which reads more like a novel, this non-fiction story of Custer’s demise at Little Bighorn fills the reader with facts as well as a glimpse into Native American life and the characters involved in the battle.

3) The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

A book of essays about her experience moving from a city in the east to very empty Wyoming, Ehrlich captures what it must have been like to live in the West during the time of Virgil and Everett and what it might take the reader to adjust to cowboy life, wide open spaces and the harshest of winters.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)  Black Powder, White Smoke by Loren D. Elsteman

This is a story about the adventures of a freed slave and white bandit who eventually cross paths and team up as they are pursued by the law for different reasons, and their fates and lives intertwine. This book is for readers who liked the fast-paced adventure and atmosphere of the West evident in Brimstone.

2)  The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard by Elmore Leonard

A collection of atmospheric, and gritty Western short stories written by Leonard over 50 years, including 3:10 to Yuma, this is for those readers who appreciated Brimstone for its rich characterizations, plot twists and fast pace.

3) The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

Touted to be one of the books which shaped the Western fiction genre, this classic novel from more than fifty years ago tells the story of the adventures and travels three frontiersmen who live in and long for big open spaces. A good pick for those who want to try earlier works of the genre and who enjoy the relationship between Virgil and Everett in Brimstone.

Name: Bridget Optholt

Many a River

July 16, 2012

Author:  Elmer Kelton

Title: Many a River

Genre:  Western

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  335

Geographical Setting:  Texas and New Mexico

Time Period:  Civil War era

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  The story of the Barfield brothers, who are small children traveling west when Comanche Indians attack their family and kill their parents.  Todd is taken by the Indians and sold, while Jeffrey manages to hide and is eventually picked up by some traveling militiamen and given a home.  The book follows the lives of each boy through adolescence as they get caught up in the drama of the Civil War in the Southwest.

Subject Headings:  Civil War period, Brothers, Indians of North America, Comanche Indians, Comanche Indians- Captivities, Mexico, Confederate States of America, The Civil War, Coming-of-Age Stories, Western Stories

Appeal:  Densely written, detailed characterization, multiple points of view, complex story line, episodic, gentle, detailed setting, historical details, candid, simple, clean, stirring

3 terms that best describe this book: Densely written, Solid historical details, Multiple points of view

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

 Manifest Destinies:  America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War– Steven Woodworth

A history of the 1840s, Manifest Destinies discusses how the acquisition of western territories forced the nation to come to grips with the approaching Civil War.

Rebel Private:  Front and Rear:  Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier– William A Fletcher

This surviving journal of a Confederate footsoldier details what life was really life in the trenches of the Civil War.  This memoir is a true-life version of Todd and Jeffrey’s time with the soldiers during the Civil War.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History– S.C. Gwynne

This book is the story of the Comanche Indians, and their battle with the American settlers for control of the West.  Would be a good choice for readers interested in the tribe that attacked the Barfields and kidnapped Todd.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Telegraph Days– Larry McMurtry

The story of two siblings orphaned by their father’s suicide who must move from their prosperous ranch to the nearby town and start new lives.  Telegraph Days is another descriptive Western story about siblings starting over after tragedy.

Runaways– Andrew Fenady

Fleeing the devastation of the Civil War, Shad Parker shuts himself away on his farm in Texas. The arrival of three orphans during Christmas week of 1867 gives him something to live for.  This inspiring novel features the same type of happy ending for young orphans in the West.

The Shadow of a Noose– Ralph Compton

Young twins Jed and Tim Strange set out to find their sister, who left home to avenge their father’s murder over a year ago. But when they’re accused of a murder they didn’t commit, they must go on the run to find the true killers.  This is another descriptive, atmospheric Western tale like Many a River.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

Lonigan

July 16, 2012

   Author:  Louis L’Amour

   Title:  Lonigan

   Genre:  Western, Short Stories

   Publication Date:  1988

   Number of Pages: 177

   Geographical Setting:  The West (United States)

    Time Period:  Old West (late 19th century)

Series:  n/a

Plot Summary:  This book contains six separate short stories about the Wild West.  Each centers around one character as they come up against challenges and strive to do what is right according to the way of the West.  It features pioneer life, ranches and outlaws.

Subject Headings:  Frontier and pioneer life – The West (United States), Outlaws, Ranches, Gunfights.

Appeal:  fast paced, adventurous, sentimental, romantic, dangerous, historical details, detailed setting, rural, gritty, menacing atmosphere, strong secondary characters, flawed characters, criminal behavior, justice.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  adventurous, rural, ranches.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Growing up western: recollections edited by Clarus Backes.  Seven old writers of the West reminisce about their growing-up years, how their rural upbringings shaped their lives.  Growing up western will appeal to readers who want to learn first-hand how living in the Wild West was in the early 20th century.

Historic ranches of the Old West by Bill O’Neal.  A number of ranch headquarters still serve their original function; others are museums or guest ranches.  This book offers a visit back to a romantic and fascinating era.

The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West by Michael Willis.  This book chronicles the history of the 101 Ranch and discusses how the ranch’s traveling show embodied the spirit of the American frontier.  The book will appear to readers who want to learn about a ranch life.  This features a ranch in Oklahoma.

 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

Best stories of the American West, vol. 1 edited by Marc Jaffe- This book features contemporary short stories set in the American West.  Like Lonigan, Best Stories of the American West is full of over twenty stories, featuring the pioneering life, relationships and adventure.

Ghost brand of the wishbones: a western trio by Peter Dawson.  This book contains a trio of short stories set against the backdrop of the Old West.  It features a story about an elderly lawman, a range war and a robbery of an entire cattle train.  This book features fast paced adventure about pioneer life.

On dangerous ground: stories of western noir edited by Ed Gorman  This book features short stories that are character driven but in a more bleak, moody atmosphere.  Like Lonigan, this book features short stories of the Wild West, looking at the dark tones of living out in the elements.

Name:  Olivia Button

Appaloosa

February 15, 2012

Author: Robert B. Parker

Title: Appaloosa

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 276

Geographical Setting: “untamed territories of the West”

Time Period: 1800s

Series (If applicable): 1st of the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch Series

Plot Summary: Renegade rancher Randall Bragg and his men have been living off the citizens of the small Western mining town of Appaloosa “like coyotes live off a buffalo carcass.” After Bragg kills the last marshal and deputy, Appaloosa’s aldermen hire town tamers Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch to restore order in the town. Things seem OK after Bragg’s trial, but some twists, turns, and deception threaten the peace Cole and Hitch have brought to Appaloosa.

Subject Headings: Deputy marshals; Wanderers and wandering; Honor in Men; Ranchers Men – Friendship; Fugitives; Escaped convicts; Gunfighters; Outlaws; Small town life – The West (United States); Gunfights; Manipulation by women; Men/women relations; Cole, Virgil; Hitch, Everett

Appeal: Fast-paced, Atmospheric, Strong sense of place, Gritty, Hard-edged, Well-drawn characters, Familiar, Cinematic, plot-centered, Details of old West, Spare, Homespun,Witty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced; Atmospheric; Gritty.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Wallis, Michael. Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride. “Both the facts and the legend pick up in 1877, when Henry—already known to some under the alias Kid—shot a man who was bullying him and began a life on the run. Wallis’s reconstruction of the Kid’s exploits is engrossing. But even more, Wallis (Route 66 ) shows Billy the Kid as a product of his era, one of profound social dislocation. Billy the Kid was, indeed, only the most legendary of a generation of ‘desperate men’ who knew how to handle a gun. Wallis, the host of PBS’s new American Roads , writes clean prose, occasionally enlivened by a particularly lovely turn of phrase (“the liquid rustle of cottonwood leaves”). The writing style of Billy the Kid may appeal to reader’s who enjoyed Appaloosa‘s spare but witty dialogue.

Guinn, Jeff.  The Last Gunfight: the real story of the shootout at the O.K. Corral—and how it changed the America West. “Describing the many social, political and other forces that set the stage for the gunfight (including new edicts regarding arrests and carrying guns), Guinn details the historic events of the cold afternoon of Oct. 26, 1881: drunken outlaw Ike Clanton’s wild threats against Wyatt Earp and Holliday; Virgil’s attempt (together with his brothers and Doc) to disarm Ike and his cowboy buddies; and the 30-second exchange of gunfire that left three cowboys dead. Just the facts—and still a great story” (Kirkus).  Like Appaloosa, The Last Gunfight is a fast-paced and compelling read that looks at lawmen who make laws and decisions that may straddle the line between right and wrong.

Tefertiller, Casey. Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend.  “Using a wide variety of primary sources, Tefertiller manages to summon up a human, complex figure and, while not omitting flaws, to persuasively demonstrate that Earp believed in the law and did his best in hard times to defend it. A great adventure story, and solid history” (Kirkus). Though fictional, Cole and Hitch also believe in and do their best to uphold the law, though all three are flawed characters.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Estelemen, Loren – Aces and Eights is the “dramatic account of the death of gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok and the trial of Jack McCall, the man hanged for the murder of Deadwood’s legendary marshal” (NoveList). Like Appaloosa, Aces and Eights is a fast-paced, atmospheric Western that revolves around a murdered marshal.

Leonard, Elmore.  Hombre features “John Russell, a young man nicknamed Hombre by the Apaches who raised him, has a deadly confrontation with a determined gang of stagecoach robbers” (book description).  Leonard and Parker both write Mysteries and fast-paced, atmospheric and gritty Westerns with a darker mood.

Kelton, Elmer – Texas Standoff: a novel of the Texas Rangers. “Newly married Texas Ranger Andy Pickard and his new partner, Logan Daggett, investigate a series of murders and cattle thefts in central Texas, a task complicated by a gang of masked vigilantes and the appearance of a notorious gunman” (NoveList). Both Appaloosa and Texas Standoff are fast-paced and atmospheric with a strong sense of place that center around two lawmen partners.

Ally C.

The Tall Stranger

February 15, 2012

Author: Louis L Amour

Title: The Tall Stranger

Genre: Westen

Publication Date: 1957

Number of Pages:126

Geographical Setting: Western United States

Time Period: Oregon Trail/Wild West

Plot Summary: Much like the other works of Louis L’Amour, this story concerns traveling to the Western United States in order to find a better life. Rock Bannon, a dedicated but solitary man finds himself heading west with a group of men from the East, none of which trust him. The group is lead by the charismatic and devious Mort Harper, who quickly becomes leader of the group, even though Rock does not trust his motives. As they move further from the tail Rock knows will lead them to a better life, he questions the morals and decision making of Mort and must decide whether to venture on his own or help his fellow travelers, including the beautiful Sharon.

Subject Headings:

Wagon trains — Oregon Trail
Pioneers — The West (United States)
Outlaws — The West (United States)
Frontier and pioneer life — The West (United States)

Appeal: Plot-driven, action-oriented, fast-paced, gritty, close-ended, details of western life, colloquial, unembellished, hard-edged, recognizable characters, physical, violent, cinematic

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: plot-driven, gritty, fast-paced

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cowboy Life: Reconstructing an American Myth – William W. Savage Jr.

This book discusses the image of the cowboy in popular American culture, from the Western novel to the cinematic masterpieces and advertisements.

Famous Gunfighters of the Western Frontier: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Luke Short and Others – W.B. Masterson

Deals with the history of some of America’s most interesting  cowboys and gunslingers and the men behind their  infamous names.

The Oregon Tail: A Photographic Journey – Bill Moeller

This book is comprised of photographs of The Oregon Trail, both of how it looks now and how it looked to emigrants to the West. It includes entries from diaries of those traveling on the trail during the 1800s.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Town Called Fury – William W. Johnstone 

Features stand-offs with Native Americans, an attack on a westward travelling wagon and a revenge plot of one man dedicated to right the wrongs done unto his family.

Last Reville – David Morrell

A fast-paced novel in which a talented scout on the Mexican border fights to eradicate Pancho Villa from the US while becoming a mentor to a young man.

War Cry – West Charles

A gritty yet romantic story in which scout Will Cason saves a woman and finds himself the enemy of a group of Native Americans determined to destroy him.

Name: Courtney Rose

Tomboy Bride

September 29, 2011

https://i2.wp.com/i43.tower.com/images/mm101905392/tomboy-bride-harriet-fish-backus-paperback-cover-art.jpgAuthor:  Harriet Fish Backus, foreword by Pam Houston.
Title:  Tomboy Bride: A Woman’s Personal Account of Life in Mining Camps of the West
Genre:  Western; Nonfiction.
Publication Date:  1969
Number of Pages:  306
Geographical Setting:  Telluride, CO; British Columbia; Idaho; and Leadville, CO
Time Period:  Early 20th Century
Series (If applicable):  N/A
Plot Summary:  Harriet Fish leaves her comfortable modern life to follow her high school sweetheart to the heights of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.  This endearing true story details what life was like for the wife of a miner at the end of the glory days of the old west.  The story truly begins in the Tomboy Mines, high up above Telluride, CO.  There is only one road between Tomboy and Telluride and during winter it’s barely wide enough for two riders to pass each other.  The adventures that the young couple faces at the Tomboy mines are just the beginning of their story.  They face floods and fire in British Columbia, isolation in Elk City, Idaho and deadly storms and claim jumpers in Leadville, CO.  Through it all, it is the love that Harriet and George have for each other and their family that sees them through. This is a story about female relationships, daily struggles, survival, adventure, and love.

Subject Headings:  Western; Nonfiction; Colorado; British Columbia; Idaho; Mining; San Juan Mountains; Rocky Mountains; 20th Century; High Altitude Cooking.

Appeal:  Endearing; leisurely-pace; densely written; funny; real; human and animal struggles; female relationships; character-centered; descriptive settings; straightforward; women; romantic; western; nostalgic; historical details.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: descriptive settings; female relationships; historical details.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Lucy Bird.  This is the story of a woman who travels through the Rocky Mountains unaccompanied in the 1870s, her remarkable story is captured in her letters back to her sister in England.
Ghost Towns of the Mountain West: Your Guide to the Hidden History and Old West Haunts of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada by Philip Varney.  This book provides maps, descriptions, and stories of ghost towns throughout the West.  Those who enjoyed reading about the mines from the perspective of someone who lived at that time might enjoy reading about what they’ve become.
Silver Queen: The Fabulous Story of Baby Doe Tabor by Caroline Bancroft.  Bancroft tells the true story of the 2nd wife of Horace Tabor, a tale about a woman who had it all and lost it all.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
My Ántonia by Willa Cather.  The classic story of an immigrant who must make her way in the American West.  There is an emphasis on the female characters; this is a love story, coming of age novel and a western.
Woman of the Frontier by Zane Grey.  The story of the struggles and hardships of a pioneer family trying to survive in Arizona.  Depicts strengths, struggles, and weaknesses of women trying to make it in the West.
These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy Turner.  Turner tells the story of an uneducated pioneer woman who, against all odds, educates herself and learns how to survive and thrive in the “wild west”.                       Name:  Jessica Lake

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

September 28, 2011

Title:  The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

Author:  Udall, Brady

Publication Date:  2001

Number of Pages:  423

Genre:  Western

Geographical Setting:  The American West (mostly Arizona and Utah)

Time Period:  Modern setting, but otherwise unspecified date.  Spans first approximately thirty years of Edgar’s life.

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  At the age of seven, Edgar Presley Mint has his head run over by a mail truck.  Half Apache and half white, the story of Edgar Mint begins with his miraculous recovery in the hospital.  Abandoned by his alcoholic mother and crazed grandmother who give Edgar up for dead, Edgar is orphaned and sent to live at an Apache reservation school for delinquents with an old and distant uncle.  At the school, Edgar’s otherworldliness, introversion, and inability to socially mingle immediately type him as an outcast.  Armed with a typewriter and a dum-dum loving friend named Cecil, Edgar learns how to survive against the cruelty of children and the ignorance of adults while never losing his innocent yet perceptive outlook on life.  Edgar is then discovered and converted to the Mormon religion by two missionaries and is sent to live with a foster family in Utah, where he again struggles with the concepts of family, love, pain, and growing up.  The story is told from Edgar’s point of view, using alternating first-person and third-person perspectives.  The novel chronicles the life of Edgar from age seven until approximately age thirty, focusing on the years from 7-15 as Edgar encounters hardship after hardship, yet never completely losing faith that the miracle of his survival happened for a reason.  This is a beautifully written, picaresque novel that depicts the very unique character of Edgar Mint, a boy who doesn’t seem to fit anywhere yet tries with all his might to find the one place that he does.  Winner of the Spur Award (best novel of the American West) in 2002, it is thought-provoking and revealing, addressing real issues of Native Americans in the contemporary west, and emotionally engages the reader with Edgar’s quest from page one.

Subject Headings:  Apache Indians; Arizona; Head wounds and injuries; orphans; foster home care; boys; coming-of-age; Mormons; alcohol and drug abuse; families and family dysfunction; reservation schools; hospitals.

Appeal:  character centered, coming-of-age story, single point of view, linear storyline, emotionally engaging, moderately paced, picaresque, Dickensian storytelling, funny, heart-breaking, detailed setting, conversational, multicultural, quirky character, thoughtful, hopeful.

3 Terms that best describe this book: Emotionally engaging, funny, thoughtful

3 Relevant Authors and Works (Fiction): The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (also features young, disabled protagonist on a journey to self-discovery).  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (adventures of a young boy growing up in a specific racial climate). The Misadventures of Silk and Shakespeare by Winfred Blevins (coming-of-age story that takes place in the West, humorous tone like certain parts in Edgar)

3 Relevant Authors and Works (Nonfiction):  Addie  by Mary Lee Settle (a nonfiction memoir that recounts the childhood of a young girl in the Kahawha Valley of West Virginia during the Great Depression); Oh what a slaughter: massacres in the American West, 1846-1890 by Larry McMurtry (recounts the slaughter of Native Americans in the West, authored by prolific and well-respected Western writer); Sitting Bull by Bill Yenne (documents the life of Sitting Bull, starting from his youth).

Name:  Rebecca C.