Western Ways and Gunslingers
Recently in conversation the remark came out that we don’t really have any westerns anymore. I didn’t say it but in a way I agree with the thought. The westerns that were reruns when I was growing up and a big part of my parent’s entertainment, don’t exist. At least not new ones. As I look back at the stuff that has come out recently, I can see the bigger western movies that have come out have been remakes. And the stuff on television tends to be modernized. Except, maybe, Hell on Wheels, but that isn’t the point of my current thoughts. Although, yeah, it is probably the closest to a modern western done as the old west.
And you know, I bring all this up and I am going to talk about something different. Or maybe something almost but not quite entirely unlike what we have been talking about. Or maybe not. And now I have been sending myself into a circle and I think maybe I need to start back at the beginning.
Westerns or the lack of them at any rate, tend to fall into that bit of enjoyment that you don’t always expect. You know what I mean right? When it is something you enjoy but it seems like it would be so out of character for you, that most people wouldn’t expect it. Or maybe they would because you tend to be predictable to everyone but yourself.
Where was I? There are three western style shows that we like to watch. The first being Hell on Wheels, a direct western. But the other two are westerns but of the modern variety. We finished as much of the series Justified as is available on Amazon a bit ago. I love the theme song for it (put out by a band named Gangstagrass, rap and bluegrass mixed like chocolate and peanut butter. It just gets ya). And then there is Longmire (finally we might be getting to a point).
We’ve been working our way through Longmire on Netflix (5 seasons and it looks like they will be putting out a 6th season this year). Great show, you should watch it. But, now we actually get to the point. See, it wasn’t until recently that I even thought to look for the books that the character and series came from.
I ended up picking up the compilation book Wait for Signs (Viking 2014). Twelve short stories to give a quick glimpse into the world that Walt Longmire inhabits. As we dig into the stories we run into a point of contention between those who seek the old westerns and some of these more modern westerns. The stories come across as a bit of mystery with a western theme. They aren’t the John Wayne style of western. That can throw some people off.
Part of that is the first person viewpoint. It might be because I come to the written stories through the tv show, but this gives me a more visceral feel from the stories. The mental movie that plays out while I am reading is easier for me to see because the characters are more like old friends at this point. Granted I don’t think you need to go through both to enjoy either but for me this is a case of the two enhancing each other.
I think that the stories are also short enough that you don’t have to invest a lot of time into them. Pick one at random for a quick escape. Which brings us back to something I touched on with a different series. These stories are set like flavor bites. They give us a quick glimpse into the world of Walt Longmire and the people he interacts with. They aren’t a huge world shaking mystery that will take up a good portion of our reading time. Instead we have these moments in time that make up part of the greater whole of the character’s life. This mixed with the show allows us to build a living world around the stories.
I don’t know, maybe this has become a bit of a plug for media tie ins. I guess as we look at the worlds that are created by either ourselves or others, there are so many ways we can broaden the view of these worlds and how we interact with them. Hell, as technology grows more robust we may build even more ways to make connections to the worlds we explore in our minds.
Anyway, I guess I should leave this here. I may follow these thoughts down darker and darker rabbit warrens if I allow myself to dwell here too much longer.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.