Friday, April 11, 2008

Flint by Louis L'Amour

Complete this SAT analogy. Hardy Boys Casefiles were to Carlton Farmer as Louis L'Amour books were to ____________. grandpa, stupid. Test-taking must not be your thing. Much like myself with Franklin W. Dixon's masterpieces (I realize that it is a nom de plume and that the man doesn't really exist) my Grandpa read pretty nearly every single Louis L'Amour book. I had not read one, so I decided that I should give them a try.

I have no clue where Flint fits within the body of L'Amour's work. I doubt it really matters. It is a somewhat typical Western. Most of the characters are archetypal. Jim Flint is the lone cowboy who decides to help out a women homesteader who is being vexed by big cattlemen (men who drive cattle, not half-human, half-bovine monstrosities). This sounds kind of simple and straightforward, but throughout the novel, L'Amour lets you in on some back story, which makes things much more interesting. Jim Flint is really James T. Kettleman, an extremely wealthy New York businessman. Before that he was a boxer. Before that he was an orphan, who was salvaged by a gunfighter named Flint, who was eventually shot down in a saloon, right in front of the boy.

So why did Kettleman the financier decide to come out west to New Mexico? He was told by a doctor in New York that he had cancer and was going to die soon. He new of a secret hideout that Flint the gunfighter used. He thought that it would make a good place to die. Those that he tangles with -- from the unscrupulous cattlemen to his murderous wife who comes from New York in search of him -- quickly find out that a man who has readied himself for death has nothing to lose.

Good book. And good call, Pa-paw.


Nihil Novum said...

Louis L'Amour gets a bad rap because he wrote so much, I think. Some of short novels are really fun, and his longer books are actually really good.

Carlton said...

Yeah, I liked this one a lot. I thought he created some pretty interesting characters, although some were a little stiff.

Nihil Novum said...

Yeah, I think the biggest problem most people have is that, except for some of his heroes--who tend to be realistically flawed characters, a lot of the side characters are sort of archtypical. That's probably why his longer works read better to me. They get a little more development.

Also, I guess he wrote a short story satirizing a lot of the conventions he used in his stories, and I'd like to track that down and read it.

Brooke said...

L'Amour is one of my grandfather's favorites, as well. He has a whole bookcase filled up with those westerns.

cj said...

Enjoyed reading this. Hope you don't mind, but I posted a link to your review on my blog, The Louis L'Amour project. You should check it out--I'd love some traffic!