Saturday, March 30, 2024

The Great American Novels.

Not long Ago, The Atlantic magazine ran a feature titled
“The Great American Novels.” The editors (with lots of help) compiled a list of the best works of book-length fiction published in America between 1924 and 2023 and came up with 136 titles.

It is an interesting list. I have heard of most of the books listed, but there were several that had escaped my notice altogether. In all, as near as I can recall, I have read but a paltry 28 of the 136 books. I guess I have to broaden my interests.

Of the books I have read, seven of them made lasting impressions on me, and I have read most, if not all of them, more than once. These are:

·   Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

·   A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

·   The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

·   The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

·   Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

·   A Winter in the Blood by James Welch

·   Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

I don’t suppose it is a surprise that four of my seven favorites from the list are set in the American West. One of those, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, is among my all-time favorites, worthy of several readings (with more to come) on my part.

There’s a lot of good reading out there. Try as I might, I’ll never get to it all. How about you?

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Luck of the draw.

In my youth I could draw a little and for years harbored dreams of becoming a commercial artist. But I lacked the patience required to be good at it. However, I would still draw sketchy cartoons and other drawings on occasion and that came in handy at times. As you might imagine, cowboys were most often the subjects of my scribbles. I have included a few examples tucked away from my college days.

First is a small-space teaser ad for an upcoming Utah State University rodeo, and a later ad for the same. (Those two are from photocopies using ancient 1970s technology so are rougher than the originals.)

The reasons escape me, but the Weber State College and Brigham Young University rodeo teams asked my assistance, and I made a cover for the WSC rodeo program and a handbill for the BYU rodeo.

The signature on the illustrations reads “Mini” which is another story. When I showed up at USU way back then I was considerably smaller than I am now, and one of the Rounders there—Marlow Carrol, if memory serves—dubbed me the “Mini Cowboy” so “Mini” was how I was known for several years.

I eventually outgrew the appellation in more ways than one.