Monday, December 20, 2021

True confession.

At the risk of sullying whatever credentials I carry in the cowboy and Western cultures, I have a confession to make.

I am not a big fan of John Wayne.

Once you have caught your breath, please read on.

While there is no doubt that The Duke made many stellar performances, and remains a movie star without parallel, it is my opinion that he played but one character in all his movies: John Wayne. It always seems to me that when watching him, I am watching John Wayne playing a cowboy. Or John Wayne playing a gunfighter. John Wayne playing a lawman. And so on.

On the other hand, when I watch what I consider better actors, I see a cowboy played by Robert Duvall. A gunfighter played by Clint Eastwood. A lawman played by Jeff Bridges. And so on, to include Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Redford, Richard Farnsworth, Gene Hackman, Tom Selleck, Paul Newman, Ed Harris…. You get the idea. I like actors who become the character they portray, rather than the character becoming the actor. To me, it is not a subtle distinction.

I once penned a profile of John Wayne as part of a collection of influential Westerners I wrote for American Cowboy magazine. I guess it was suitably reverential as it drew a fan letter—a brief email, actually—from one of John Wayne’s sons, praising the piece and saying it was one of the finest tributes he had ever read about his father.

I meant every word of it. Still…

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A book reborn.

Years ago, an author friend asked me to write a novel for a new publisher he was trying to help get established. The result was Cold as the Clay. That publisher, unfortunately, never gained a foothold and has long since folded its tent and pulled its picket pin. So, Cold as the Clay has been out of print for years.

But the book is too good to die. Now it is available in a handsome new e-book and paperback edition (that’s the cover above), published by Speaking Volumes. The links will take you to the publisher’s site, but you will also find it wherever you buy books online.

The story follows a cowboy named Wilson Hayes, whose life more or less follows the pattern of King David’s story in the Bible—plenty of heroics, violence, treachery, greed, and romance. All, of course, in an Old West frontier setting.

I’m happy to see Cold as the Clay live again. It deserves a second chance.