Fiction: The Son by Philipp Meyer

The Son is less one long book than three ones. The book covers four generations of a Texas family: a frontiersman turned cattle baron captured by the Comanche, his titular son, and his great-granddaughter, an heiress turned oil baroness. The problem is that it is one very, very good book and a couple mediocre ones.

The first story, about the “Colonel” as he’s referred to elsewhere, is the best and can’t be treated as anything other than the main story. His family settled on the frontier of Texas in the 1800s, and he was captured by Comanche is a raid. He starts as a slave and becomes a Comanche warrior. Meyer’s research on the Comanche shows. If only he could have done more research on the rest of the story.

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Film: Deadwood: The Movie

Before I get into my review of the Deadwood movie, I have a confession to make: I like how the show ended.  In fact, it is perfect.  Deadwood is a show about carving a society out of the wilderness but at the same time attempting to stave off civilization.  Robert E. Howard was wrong: civilization always wins.  The show ends perfectly because it ends when free Deadwood ends.  Time marches on, but the thing about the town that made it such a fascinating subject for a show no longer exists.

My thoughts are also colored by my view of season 3 more broadly.  Deadwood started with the brilliance and heat of a raging wildfire.  By season 3 it only smoldered.  Elements outwore their welcome for me.  The respective storylines for Calamity Jane, Cy Tolliver, and Steve the Drunk each consisted almost shouting epithets.

So how does the movie measure up?  It does finally give Calamity Jane, criminal underused by the show, something to do.  People die.  A large chunk of the movie is extraordinarily tense storytelling.  Its suffers, though, from the usual problems of reunion shows and it undercuts the show ending, all while providing no real closure.

Pic courtesy of HBO

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Movies: Black 47

In the year of 1845 a terrible famine descended upon Ireland.  Within a few short years, 1 in 4 of our people would be gone forever—fled to England or North America . . . or dead from starvation or fever.  Irishmen who had enlisted to fight for the occupying British crown in its foreign wars returned home to find only death and destruction in every corner of the land.

Black 47 is a vigorous, stylized revenge thriller-cum-historical drama.  An “Irish Braveheart” isn’t quite a fitting label, for reasons I will get into below.  A top-notch neo-western, Black 47 is more an “Irish The Outlaw Josey Wales.”

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Fiction: Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco

“You don’t mess with Box Elder people you dumb fuck.”

23-year-old twins Wyatt and Lucy Smith are just scraping by, alone on their Utah ranch since the death of their father.  A ranch they’re fixing to lose after an ill-fated encounter by Wyatt with a girl half demon on an early morning hunt leaves them short enough cattle to sink the whole venture.  And so Wyatt leaves the ranch on a mad quest to hunt down the girl and get restitution somehow, anyhow.

Things get awful bloody from there as Wyatt encounters bikers, cartels, and drug manufacturers and the girl that may be the most dangerous of all of them with nothing but a rusty shotgun, a glass eye, and indomitable human spirit.  All set against a sere, windblown Utah seemingly empty of anything but coyote, cattle, crank, and cowboys carrying assault rifles.

Rough Animals is Rae DelBianco’s debut.  And what a damn debut it is.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco

I’m cheating again (just a bit).  Rough Animals is already out.  But I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review copy.  And by lucky I mean I finagled it (I am a great finagler).

I was sold as soon as I saw Rough Animals compared to the work of Cormac McCarthy and Ron Rash.  You’ve already seen evidence of my love of Ron Rash.  The Cormac McCarthy love will come, believe me.

Can’t-Wait Wednesdays is hosted by Wishful Endings.

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