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Thursday, October 20, 2011


When discussions, either verbally or online, come around to the subject of great Western literature, the book you see here now is always talked about.  I understand that in some schools, SHANE is – or was – considered required reading.  Not in my own schools, so I didn’t get around to this one until the early 1980s. 

It goes without saying that the movie version struck a chord with people, too; it helped immortalize Alan Ladd and, to as great a degree, Jack Palance. 

I had the great pleasure of meeting Jack Schaefer in 1986.  He was in Dallas/Fort Worth that year to address the WWA convention.  I do not recall if he was awarded anything or not, but he did spend some time with a group of us (see photo below) afterwards.

(From left to right: Loren D. Estleman, Jack Schaefer, Jory Sherman and some inconsequential nudnik named Mike Madonna.  Summer, 1986)

Mr. Schaefer was very kind and personable and, as I interpret it now, a bit mystified as to why we were all making such a fuss over him.  He didn’t let on if he understood that we all felt we were in the presence of greatness.  He signed the above copy of SHANE for me as well as A COMPANY OF COWARDS. 

Unfortunately I did not have a copy of MONTE WALSH at the time, or I would have asked him to autograph it as well. 

It was a proud moment in my life and one that will stay with me for however many days I have left. 


Meeting Gordon D. Shirreffs at the 1984 Western Writers of America Convention in Branson, Missouri, was a highlight in my young, then 23 year-old life. 

Gordon, along with several Western Writing Old-Timers (I call them that with only the greatest respect and admiration), appeared to have gotten a kick from some fresh-faced kid asking them to regale him with stories about their books and stories. 

It was at the book signing sale table that I found Gordon had two novels in a single volume (Signet books did a lot of those “doubles” back in that time period), one of the stories being “Last Train From Gun Hill”.  He saw my eyes light up as I spotted the book and started to explain that the movie was not based on his book, but rather the opposite.  Didn’t really matter – I was fascinated anyway because I was a fan of the Kirk Douglas/Anthony Quinn movie. 

I, of course, got the book, had it signed, and will one day post the cover here so that you can see it.

Other great things about Gordon: his lovely wife, Alice and his son, Brian.  Oh, and the fact that he told me that he lived near enough to Clint Eastwood that they occasionally played tennis together. 

Gordon’s not with us any longer, but he certainly made several wonderful memories for this now-not-so-young kid. 

Rest easy, Gordy.   


Loren Estleman’s masterful study of “The Virginian” and influence it had on Western novels to follow.


The cover art was still good and the storylines were better when this, book #28, came out in the Slocum series. 


Jory Sherman holds a special place in my heart for lots of reasons, not the least being that he invited me down to attend the 1984 Western Writers of America Convention in Jory’s then-hometown of Branson, Missouri.

I was nervous about going initially because I was bound to be meeting some writers I idolized and was concerned that maybe they might be a little put off by someone as young as I was then professing to be a fan.  Anyway, all went well, and I forged friendships then that have lasted through the years.

I first became familiar with Jory through his Adult Western series, GUNN.  After the sun set on GUNN, I started seeing his “straight” Westerns and was captivated by them as well. 

These days Jory is back in Texas, having just reached his 79th year.  I imagine that he is at his happiest doing what he does so well and seeing that he’s getting the critical praise he so richly deserves. 

Piece of advice: if you run into Jory at a convention or a book signing, ask him to “show his badge”.  He does the most dead-on Alfonso Bedoya impression you’ll ever hear!

I challenge you to pick up any of Jory’s books; you will be thoroughly entertained by a master who is always at the top of his game.


Richard Matheson, although beloved and respected, probably bugs a few people, too, because of his tendency to write in a new genre and then take that genre over completely. 

I believe “Journal of the Gun Years” was Mr. Matheson’s first Western and since that time has occupied a fair piece of ground in that territory.

I have not yet cracked this one open yet.  Frankly, I’m afraid to.  Why?  Because I need to do it when I have more than just a couple of hours available because I know that I absolutely WILL be up with this all night if I am not careful. 

I’m either that much of a fan or Mr. Matheson is just that good.  Or both.


The bounty hunter, along with hanging judges and Texas Rangers, has always been a point of fascination with me, be it in books, TV or movies.   Buying STAGECOACH GRAVEYARD, then, was really a no-brainer. 


Yes, Virginia, there really WAS a Joseph (Joe) Millard and, according to info I recently received in an e-mail, he used his own name on the books. 

I’ve seen Mr. Millard’s name on several other books, aside from the “Man With No Name” series, all from Award Books. 

Look at the price on the cover – when’s the last time you paid 95 cents for ANY kind of book?


Haven’t read this one yet.  The last Max Brand Western I tried to read was THE WHISPERING OUTLAW.  It bored me to tears and I couldn’t get through it.    Hoping I actually CAN get through this one because I’d like to be able to honestly say that I’ve read one of his books. 

If I don’t like this “Best” compilation, I may have to give up on Brand. 

Monday, October 10, 2011


The newest chapter in the sage of "The Loner".

This one looks to have Conrad Browning (Kid Morgan) reuniting with his father, legendary gunfighter Frank Morgan.

The common purpose: rescuing Kid Morgan's young twins from a San Francisco crime lord who has "adopted" the children.

Have to discipline myself not to dive into this one right away because I've not read them all up to this point.  J.A. has informed me previously that it's a good idea to read them in order. 

A big thanks to J.A. Johnstone for sending this one along.