Buyer's Corner: The Denim Edition!

Article by keaton

I'm a Texan. So, of course I love a good Western. In fact, the running gag at Brazos is that I will read anything with a horse on the cover. This is mostly true. The rest is legend. Like Westerns. But the Western genre is more than broncos, denim, six shooters, and great hats. The locale and the conceits of this school of fiction allows to the author and reader to observe the heart of the American saga laid bare. Rapacious capitalism and fraud, the violent collision between civilizations, the transformation of eons of human life through the onslaught of industry--all the darkest and most mythic aspects of our nation's history are acted out in the hot crush of inevitable Western expansion. These books are not simple generic fare. Together, they compose a vital wing to the literary canon of America and the world (for other countries have their own takes on the genre). So mount up, reader. We're hitting the trail with Westerns in this month's Buyer's Corner.

Train Dreams: A Novella Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007650
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Picador - May 22nd, 2012

This magnificent novella from the recently passed Johnson is an epic in miniature and proof that a literary masterpiece need not break 100 pages. It's the story of an ordinary man who lives through the quickening changes of early 20th century America. Sounds simple, but Johnson turns this premise into a stunning portrait of a nation in flux. Out of the three finalists for the Pulitzer for fiction that was not awarded in 2012, this is the one that should have won.

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679767862
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Vintage - March 19th, 1996

The first novel from the great Ondaatje is a tremendous hybrid genre feat of imagination, centering on the timeless tale of Billy the Kid and his nemesis, Pat Garrett. Like any legend, this work is part fact, part fiction. Blending a captivating experimental prose style, actual historical accounts, pseudo diary entries, poetic stream-of-consciousness narration, as well as paintings and photographs, this slight book creates a haunting, mesmerizing death song for an iconic American anti-hero.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780684852225
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Scribner - February 10th, 2000

And Westerns aren't only for men or male writers. This amazing collection of "Wyoming Stories" from Pulitzer and National Book Award winner, Annie Proulx, are some of the most vivid and engrossing portrayals of cowboy life, both past and present. And there is no overstating the heartwrenching beauty of her classic novella, "Brokeback Mountain," contained herein. It is quite simply one of the most moving and tragic love stories I've ever read. The movie--with a screenplay co-written by Texas legend, Larry McMurtry--ain't too shabby either.

Ema the Captive Cover Image
By César Aira, Chris Andrews (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811219105
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - December 6th, 2016

And Westerns aren't only for Americans. Prolific Argentine storyteller, Aira, has put out several novels over his long career that can be classified as Westerns of the Southern hemisphere. Set in the 19th century, as horrific atrocities are commited by and against both soldiers and natives in the surreal landscape of the Pampas, this curious novel follows the travels of Ema, a woman who has lived as a captive of the local tribes for many years, as she is returned to a civilization that proves to be even more brutal than the life from which she's been "rescued."

Country of the Bad Wolfes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935955030
Availability: Backordered
Published: Cinco Puntos Press - January 31st, 2012

This first installment in Blake's international Western saga that straddles the border between Texas and Mexico charts the rise of an amoral familial clan with a nefarious impact on the histories of both countries. It's a raw, violent take on the manifest destiny of individuals and nations. A rollicking adventure ride and a powerful indictment of the legacy of corruption and greed plaguing the borderlands. Subsequent volumes in the series follow the Wolfes as their power continues to grow through the decades, eventually becoming entangled with the drug cartels of today.

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