Looking for a dark, gritty western...

Discussion in 'General Fiction' started by hawkeyye, May 10, 2012.

  1. hawkeyye

    hawkeyye Registered User

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    My favorite author is Joe Abercrombie, so that gives you an idea of what kind of book I enjoy. The dark gritty stuff. Joe is writing a "western style" fantasy book right now, which got me thinking about finding an actual western of this style. My favorite western movie's are Good/bad/ugly, Unforgiven, 3:10 to Yuma, etc.

    Can anyone recommend me any western novel's in this same vein? Dark, brutal, action oriented with great characterization. Thanks.
     
  2. Carlyle Clark

    Carlyle Clark Registered User

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    3:10 to Yuma was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. He wrote several wester short stories and handful of Western novels, notably Hombre (made into a movie starring Paul Newman) Valdez is Coming (made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster) those are in a similar vein as 3:10 to Yuma, especially Valdez is Coming which has a lot of action, and Leonard always does great characterization.
     
  3. Teela Brown

    Teela Brown I'm lucky.

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    It's pretty old school but you might try Louis L'Amour. That's ALL he wrote, westerns. I've read a few but he was my grandfather's favorite author.

    Also, check out Larry McMurtry. He wrote Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo. Not sure if you've ever seen the LD miniseries, but it's quite excellent and naturally the book is better.

    Happy reading!
     
  4. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    Teela's beaten me to this one!

    Second recommendation: Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove.

    One of the most atmospheric books about the Wild West, reminded me of the sort of broad canvas type historical epic books James Mitchener did so well: Chesapeake, for example.

    But I must admit I've not read a lot of Westerns as such. Like Teela's granddad, mine also read Louis L'Amour: keep meaning to try some.

    Mark
     
  5. k1w1taxi

    k1w1taxi Registered User

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    If you want Dark, Gritty then I would probably forget about L'Amour. His stories are very much in the traditional Western mold. If you can find any George G Gilman (Edge, Steele series) they are pretty gritty, not to mention violent. Some of Terry Johnston's can be pretty gritty as well.

    Dark is not something that gets a lot of shelf space in Western as apart from a period in the 70 - early 80s (when Gilman was writing) Western readers generally seem to prefer there books to follow a set formula. Almost as bad as M&B readers :D

    Cheers
    Lee
     
  6. neeson1

    neeson1 New Member

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    Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian
     
  7. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    Ditto Lonesome Dove -- there's a prequel and a couple of sequels, so if you like those characters, you'll have plenty to keep you busy. Also try Anything for Billy.

    The Homesman and The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout. A "homesman" is someone charged with taking women who've been driven crazy by life on the plains back to their homes in the East. The Shootist is about an aging gunfighter.

    Tie My Bones to Her Back by Robert F. Jones has a female protagonist (buffalo hunter). It's pretty raw.

    Ron Hansen - Desperadoes and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Not as dark and gritty as others but worth a read. Hansen is one of my favorite writers.

    Heart of the Country by Greg Mathews -- a misogynist buffalo hunter is the main character. You'll hate him.

    I'll try to think of some more -- I have a couple shelves of westerns. Love the genre.
     
  8. kennychaffin

    kennychaffin Man of Ways and Means

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    Yep, his Border trilogy... No sure how "dark" it is compared to the O.P. but...

    No Country for Old Men ?
     
  9. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    I never read Lonesome Dove though I saw the excellent mini-series. However I did read Streets of Laredo which does gritty pretty well. There is also alot of books by the late Terry Johnstone set in west including his massive Plainsman series which follows the exploits of an Irish Immigrant and Civil War veteran who works as an Army Scout and impossibly gets himself involved in every Indian conflict across the Great Plains for 30 years since the Civil War ended. The treatment of the protaganists, Army, civilian and Native American is pretty even-handed with plenty of heroes and villians in every camp. It also does a pretty good job of capturing the harsh conditions encountered in that part of North America during the late Nineteenth Century and the trail of greed, broken-treaties, and tragic culture clashes that nearly led to the genocide of a proud, desperate and overmatched people.
     
  10. algernoninc

    algernoninc Now I'm an axolotl

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    I've read a modern western recently that reminded me a bit of Joe Abercrombie with some quite graphic violence, gallows humor and a pair of hired guns as the main actors. it's called The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. It was rated no.1 book of 2011 on Amazon and wonn a lot of literary prizes.
     
  11. Faustus

    Faustus Registered User

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    Hawkeyye, If you haven't read Treasure Of The Sierra Madre by (B. Traven), it's one of the great western classics and it fits your dark and gritty requirement to a Tee
     
  12. hawkeyye

    hawkeyye Registered User

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I had not heard of this nor seen the movie. I read the synopsis and ordered it. Looks very good. Will be here Friday. Thanks!
     
  13. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

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    I second this suggestion. Also, for a Western set in contemporary times, McCarthy's No Country for Old Men would be hard to beat.

    I'd also suggest True Grit by Charles Portis. The John Wayne movie of this might not make it seem an obvious suggestion, but the book is darker than that. (Still haven't seen the Coen Brothers version.)

    Have you read anything by Joe R. Lansdale? I haven't read his westerns except Dead in the West, which combines horror with a Western setting and contains a short novel and four short stories, but the tone of this book and other works I've read by him make him a likely candidate for you to look into.

    Randy M.
     
  14. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    That was indeed excellent.

    A couple of other good ones: The Son by Phillip Meyer, follows a young boy through adulthood (and beyond) and tells the story of the settlement of Texas. I've read a lot of westerns and this is the first where the author wrote Indian characters having actual conversations. I think it's won a few prizes too, and made Amazon's top ten in 2013, or 2012, whenver.

    Also The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom. Not precisely a "western" since it's set in the southeast, but it has a western tone -- lawlessness, etc.
     
  15. Carlyle Clark

    Carlyle Clark Registered User

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    In the Rogue Blood & Wildwood Boys both by James Carlos Blake

    Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell
     
  16. Hitmouse

    Hitmouse Registered User

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    Westerns really don't get much darker or violent than Blood Meridien. In fact Joe Abercrombie doesn't get much darker or more violent than Blood Meridien.

    BM is not part of the Border Trilogy.
     
  17. lolrus

    lolrus Registered User

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    I recently found the "COLE & HITCH SERIES" by Robert B. Parker, starting with "Appaloosa". Really enjoyed them. The only other westerns I've read were the "Sudden" books by Oliver Strange, but that was decades ago, haven't read any of the more recent ones by other authors. Sudden was a good man in a dangerous world, with a fast draw and solved many a problem. Cole and Hitch have some warped morals and find many ways to justify their actions, and manage to kind of do the right thing in the end.

    You could also try the "Lost Regiment" books by William Forstchen. The plot revolves around a Union Army regiment from the American Civil War which gets transported to an alien world. There are other displaced groups of humans from different eras/locations. there are also, The Tugar are ten foot tall aliens with a culture and technology similar to that of the Mongol Horde. They ride a never-ending circuit around the planet. They have subjugated the human populations in their territory and use them as food. Fantastic books, cost me an arm and a leg to get them all, but well worth it.
     
  18. Caedus

    Caedus Registered User

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    Bruce Boxleitner (aka Commander Sheridan from Babylon 5) wrote a few western novels, before he hit the big screen. Critics were pretty favorable w/ them. Maybe you could check them out!
     
  19. sandraj2stuff

    sandraj2stuff New Member

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    Dark and gritty. Kinda cheesy though.

    The 1995 movie "The Quick and the Dead."