May 1 - May 31, 2011
The western has long been considered a genre of ill-repute, a place for people who buy their books in supermarkets far away from places of serious literature. But those of us who love them know that the American western is much more than escapist entertainment.
Love them, hate them, or never read one, join me this May in an exploration of this very American genre.
There will be two suggested reading lists.
CB offers this by way of a definition of an American Western...
- A North American setting somewhere west of the Mississippi River
- A hero with the desire to make it on his own.
- A sense that something is coming to an end.
- A sense that civilization is approaching.
- A struggle of man against the elements.
- A physical struggle of man against man.
- A sense of culture in transition.
- An emphasis on setting.
- A man on a horse.
- A man with a gun.
- A man who operates outside of legal systems.
- A man who rides into town.
- A man who rides out of town.
Visit the page about the Read-A-Long for more information.Of course 'woman' can replace 'man' in all of the above criteria, however American westerns tend to be about men.
Does a western have to be set in the American west? No. Take The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey for example. However, an American Western must take place in North America.
Is Little House on the Praire by Laura Ingals Wilder a western? Yes. Many of the Little House books meet the following criteria: emphasis on setting, struggle of man against nature, sense of civilization approaching, hero who wants to make it on his own, a culture in tranisition.
Can a western feature only Native American characters? Yes, if it is set in a time period after 1942. If it is set prior to 1942, then it's historical fiction.