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Author recommendation: Luke Short

Started by Ron Edwards, April 14, 2003, 04:22:40 PM

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Ron Edwards


I was re-reading my issues of The Preacher prior to loaning them to a friend, and came across a reference or two in the letters pages to the novels of Luke Short. So then I was browsing in some used bookstores and discovered Hardcase and Bounty Guns.

Oh my God. Matt, you have to read these books, and I presume, any more Short you can find.

The following are excerpts from Hardcase (1971 Dell publication; original copyright 1941):

Page 100
"You're utterly selfish, a cheap little killer."

"That's right," Dave said levelly. "So don't expect me to make a hero out of myself just because you spoke to me once. I want you to get this through your thiick McFee skull: I'm in this because somebody is trying to make a sucker out of me, not to help you."
"When I make plans, I like to see them work. I planned to get Sholto and take him and your dad back to Beal, so your dad would go free. But somebody shot Sholto. My plans were spoiled. I don't like it."

"My, my," Carol said in vicious mockery. "Did someone cross our nasty little bad man?"

"They tried to," Dave said arrogantly. "They won't get away with it."

Page 106
[Will Usher] was a man who liked fine things, and although that liking had got him into much trouble, through the short cuts he took to get fine things, it still didn't cure him.

Page 111
[Ernie] rounded up his men, and when they saw him his eyes had turned bleak and his jaw was set. He said, "There out to be shovels out in the shed. We're goin' to dig a grave."

They worked at it for two hours and Ernie never gave up his shovel. A lot of things were simmering in his mind while he worked in the hot sun. Before today Sholto had just been a man who had the bad luck to be killed. Today it was different. He had been this girl's husband and he'd been bushwhacked. Ernie wasn't a man of many words or many thoughts, but that afternoon he pledged to himself that he'd see Sholto's murder avenged or turn in his badge and move out of the country.

This is the real stuff from the 1930s: not sanitized via MGM, not over-ridden with gore and excess in order to stand out. I am betting that this material is what L'Amour (who, frankly, I find boring) is palely imitating.

Notice how close together these three Name-the-Devil scenes are. Also, they precede several intense interactions in which the characters' own actions bring them into close proximity, and the climax of the book explodes (it's only about 130 pp long).


Matt Snyder

Wow, those passages are fantastic. Just dripping with Devils, even one as simple (and obvious - duh!) as Greed. I will look these up.

This also reminds me, Ron, that I ran across a text of Riders of The Purple Sage. If I recall, it might have even been a public domain e-text. I'll have too look that one up, though. If I find it, I'll post a link.
Matt Snyder

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra

Matt Snyder

Holy hell, what a weird coincidence -- gotta share this, Ron.

I was binding some Dust Devils print editions at my dad's house (he has a comb binder). My daughter was sitting at a table "playing" next to a stack of my dad's old books. He has hundreds, if not thousands, of books all over the house and beyond, all of which annoy my mother to no end.

So, imagine my surprise when I went to move the books for her when I noticed an old paperback Western, a cast off from a local library.

It was Man From the Desert, by Luke Short.

Dad wasn't home, but when I see him next I'm gonna borrow that book and see if he can't rustle up some others. What a wild coincidence running into this book just a couple weeks after you mentioned it, Ron, and while I was putting together some new editions!
Matt Snyder

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra


What an extremely polite son to not just take the book and let dad know later...

Matt Snyder

Quote from: ValamirWhat an extremely polite son to not just take the book and let dad know later...

Something like that. Actually, I left it as an excuse to talk it up with him, and show him the Nine Worlds cover.
Matt Snyder

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra