Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Day Manly-Man Walt Whitman Met Cowboy Oscar Wilde

So here's the thing about Oscar Wilde's tour of the American West... wait, you know about that, right?  There's a great murder mystery about it by Walter Satterthwait called Wilde West, and Jonah Hex met up with him in the Joe Lansdale / Tim Truman Riders of the Worm and Such miniseries (famous for having published the only letter I ever wrote to a comics company).  In 1882 Wilde came to American on what was to be a brief literary tour, but ended up staying for nearly a year.  People loved him, or loved to mock him, or both.  Wilde drank tea with the literary societies and slung back whiskey with miners in saloons.  In 1882 Oscar Wilde was the coolest thing to hit the West.  I'm guessing he got a lot of tail.  Speaking of which...

Oscar Wilde lampooned in a San Francisco magazine
So here's the thing about Oscar Wilde's tour of the American West... he met Walt Whitman, the manliest of men who ever loved manly men.  When they met, the local press interviewed Whitman, and here is what he said: "One of the first things I said was that I should call him ‘Oscar.’ ‘I like that so much,’ he answered, laying his hand on my knee. He seemed to me like a great big, splendid boy. He is so frank, and outspoken, and manly."

"That's right, I got me a piece of Wilde action."
Damn, that's some manly stuff right there. A blog called The Toast wrote about this in exquisite detail.  All that I am going to do here is quote from an article describing the meeting of two 19th century literary giants and let you wander on to read the actual post yourself.

This is a gift. You do realize that, don’t you? History has reached out to you specifically and given you a gift. The gift is the knowledge that Oscar Wilde once put his hand on Walt Whitman’s knee and then they drank elderberry wine together; the gift is that the next day a reporter turned up and Whitman expounded at length on his big, splendid boy.

Happy trails, pard!

Hex & Wilde, Cowboy Style

Friday, October 25, 2013

On Reading Jory Sherman’s Sidewinder While Ordering Chinese Food

On a trip through the Raleigh-Durham airport yesterday I found a used book store in Terminal B, and even more surprisingly it had four shelves of westerns.  With just a few minutes to look before boarding I spotted a copy of Jory Sherman’s Sidewinder.  A vague memory that some blog had given it a good review came to mind, I plunked down my $4.50, threw the book into the backpack that passes as my briefcase, and boarded my flight.  I bypassed Sidewinder, though, and read comics on my Ipod and half of Peter Brandvold’s Dust of the Damned (review forthcoming, I hope).

Today after a long day of work I stopped on the way home at a chinese takeout place.  Knowing it would take a few minutes for my order to come together I reached into my backpack and found Sidewinder.  The girl at the register laughed when I ordered my General Tso’s Bean Curd (what, there are no vegetarian cowboys in China?!?).  Taking a seat, I flipped open the book.

Chapter one, page one, paragraph one.  Already there is a square jawed hero.  No, really, he is described as having a square jaw.  The rest of the page is exacting descriptions of two characters.  Our hero, Brad Storm (seriously?), is given more visual description in this first page than the Kid was given in 327 pages of Blood Meridian.

On to chapter two, in which our hero beats nine kinds of shit out of a rattlesnake.  I think.  That happened really fast and I’m not sure exactly what happened to chapter one.  I go back and reread all of chapter one.  I’m back to chapter two and the snake is still dead and the hero is dying.

Is this the book that got such a good review?  I look at the cover.  Yeah, I think this is it.  I hope the writing picks up.  Wonder what’s taking the food so long?  I like how the delivery guy has his collar flipped up like a bad boy from an 80’s movie.  Is that woman cooking the same woman who took my order?  No, she’s older.  Oh, there’s the cashier, she’s sitting behind the counter playing with her phone.  I’ve really found some good comics for the Ipod.  Wonder if the cook’s married to that delivery guy, they seem to get along.  Can you believe that woman at the other Chinese place by the yoga studio is having another kid?  Amazing.  I don’t have any kids.  She’ll have two.  She seems so young.  Oh yeah, I’m reading this book.

There’s some woman, and she knows how to handle a gun.  Sherman really knows a lot about guns.  I wonder if he knows how to develop characters without direct exposition?  I bet this woman is the wife of the main character and she gets kidnapped.  Let’s read the back cover.  Yup, she gets kidnapped.  Huh, what’s that say:

"Jory Shreman is a national treasure"- Loren Estleman.  

Estleman.  That guy can write.  Didn’t I listen to The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion on my morning walk?  Yeah, I’ll have to listen more in my evening walk.  He writes a lot of good books.  So does F.M. Parker, I should dig some of those out.  Like that trilogy of interconnected novels all taking place in parallel during the Mexican American War?  That was cool.  Amazing how Riders of the Purple Sage turned out to be such a crisply written, proto-feminist, erotic read.  Man I love that book.  Can’t believe Mrs. Slap loved it, too.
Always trust the opinions of Mrs. Slap.

Man, this food is taking a while.  Had to go hunt up extra bean curd.  Where was I?  Chapter four.  Four?!?  Are you fucking kidding?  Okay, now there’s an Arapaho and a Navajo who are helping out the poisoned hero.  Wow, that’s some bad dialog.  Did this come right out of the 1950’s crazy racist Injun dialog book? 

There’s the table with a stack of free magazines.  I should read one of those.  Maybe I’ll leave the book here.  No, someone’ll just throw it away.  People really seem to like this guy’s writing.  I wonder why?  If I review it on my blog and he reads it will he be pissed?  Last time I published an article someone told me to never read the comments.  Then I read the comments.  One day I’ll publish my novel and people will hate it.  That sucks.  Got to finish it first.  First comes my yoga certification, then I’ll finish the book.  Where’s my food?

I really should be reading something better than this.  Ed Erdelac sent me a copy of Merkabah Rider, what, a year ago?  And I still haven’t read it.  I bet it’s better than this.  

Ah, my bean curd.  Smile at the Chinese girl, she’s laughing at your bean curd.  That’s fine, I don’t have to read any more of this book now.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Howling Through the Moonshine

Breckinridge Elkins

Despite all the yoga, what I really want to do today is to drink a gallon of moonshine and howl my way through a drunken brawl with teeth and fists a’flying, rather than fly to a board meeting.  C’est la vie.  Must be time to break out some of Mean Pete's drunk old bastard heroes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Metrosexual Mountain Man

I woke up today and went on my customary morning walk.  Since it was the first cold day of the year I had on a heavy Cabella’s sweatshirt over an Eastern Mountain Sports t-shirt and a pair of well-worn flannel lined jeans from LL Bean.  As cold weather and my scarred up chest don’t get along well I decided it was time to break out my new LL Bean clover sweater vest for work, but still struggled to figure out what it matched with.  I settled on slate dress slacks and a Joseph A Banks light grey/green shirt.  Before heading out I checked the mirror and moved my just shy of too long hair and beard into place, and laughed at the notion that my management never knows if I’ll come to work in khakis and flannel or displayed like a peacock.  No wonder I am so enamored by the Rawhide Kid.