East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Back west


I’m going to go back and re-read Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove for the third time in the next few weeks, which is weird because I got something like forty-odd books in my Christmas book haul and it was just incredible and my to read list was never so full.

But there’s two reasons I’m going back to Gus & Call’s adventures. Well, OK, four.

But the first reason is simply that it’s a great book and I feel like reading it again, and the second is I’m going to slate it up for the book club I’m holding on my Italian blog, because the Italian version’s out again and it’s real cheap.

Reason three and four are more articulate.

I’ve been severely thrashed, last night, because I read only ridiculous genre fiction and not serious stuff of the kind that does win big-time literary awards, like, say, the Pulitzer.

Now, I personally hate posturing, and when someone starts claiming his mind is better than mine because the book they read have award stickers on the cover, I get seriously irritated. I mean, read what you like – nobody can come and preach about your bookshelf. Suggesting good books? Damn, yes! Saying your books are waste paper and a waste of time? No, thanks.

So, usually, when they start and humble me with a Pulitzer badge, I reply by suggesting they check out Lonesome Dove – that is a western, that was made into a western TV series, and that’s beautiful. And also, has a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize badge.
Embarrassment of the posturer ensues.

Lonesome Dove is also an excellent example of how genre fiction – horse opera, in this case – is flexible and resilient enough to carry an awful lot of ideas, and themes, and topics. It’s fun, and poignant, and tragic, and inspirational, and it’s all about a cattle drive, so there.
Genre fiction can be as serious and significant as any other kind of writing.

And because I’ve been reading a quite interesting handbook about writing westerns, checking out a few westerns is the next step I mean to take in order to then try and break into a new (for me) genre and hopefully a new market. And once again I want to read the best examples of the genre, both in terms of best sellers commercially, and best respected from a literary standpoint.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “Back west

  1. “I’ve been severely thrashed, last night, because I read only ridiculous genre fiction and not serious stuff of the kind that does win big-time literary awards, like, say, the Pulitzer.”

    Can the guy still walk?


    • Oh, yes – he’s punishing himself enough by reading books because he must and not because he likes them 😀


      • I hate rude behavior in a man. I won’t tolerate it.
        Surly bartenders and pretentious book snobs, too.


        • As I said, I am happy with suggestions and comparisons, and to each their own tastes and preferences, but to be dissed because I do not read to check a list of “right” books with the purpose of looking good is somewhat irritating.


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