Monday, July 11, 2011

Five Things I Learned From Shalom on the Range

1- Never trust critics- Shalom on the Range has a series of great reviews from western authors on it back cover.  On Amazon, it has an average rating of 4 ½ stars.  By the end of the first chapter I was sure that I was reading a different book.

2- Trust your readers- Each new scene in Shalom on the Range seemed to start with the same way, with long, laborious details to give you an exact image of every character.  You don’t need that.  Trust the reader to fill in the details.  Give them a sense of what is happening, and let them fill in the gaps.

3- Everyone needs a good editor- In the first chapter of Shalom on the Range there were continuity errors, geography errors, anachronisms, and I believe a grammar error.  Something that is easy for a writer to overlook (I certainly have fraked up enough in this blog) but also something that a good editor really should have been able to fix before the book was published.

4- Racism isn’t funny- Even if you are a Jew mocking anti-Semitism, it really gets tiring after a while.  The entire book seems built on two ideas- that people may not be as racist as you though, or may be way more racist than you thought.  I gather that these scenes are supposed to be funny, but they just felt painful.

5- Cowboy boots are functional- It turns out that they are pointed to make it easier to get your foot in the stirrup, and have high heels so you can brace your foot in tighter.  Hey, something good did come out of reading this book!  

To be fair, Shalom on the Range is not bad, and I am curious to see what other western mayhem author Michael Katz may be writing, but this novel feels like the publisher or editor did a real disservice by not shaping it into a finer work before being released.

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