Saturday, June 16, 2018

"Guns of the Timberlands" by Louis L'Amour

Man, oh man, is this a well-crafted story.  I am in awe.  This book is almost depressingly good.

I say that because I'm working on revisions of my latest western, Dancing and Doughnuts, and I'm feeling very critical about my own storytelling efforts right now.  And when I read something so tautly plotted, with superb characterizations and action scenes I can never dream of matching... I sometimes get depressed.  Not always.  Sometimes, I get inspired.  And, actually, this book did help me think through some stuff about antagonists that was really helpful for my current writing projects.  So that's good.

But mostly I read this as fast as I possibly could, muttering, "It's just not fair!  It's not fair!  Whyyyyyyyy is he such a good writer?  Noooooooo!" and other similarly whiny things.

This is kind of dumb review.  Sorry.  The truth is, this book blew my tiny little mind, and I'm still reassembling the pieces.

So there's this rancher named Clay Bell who is basically... imagine if Wolverine was not a mutant, but just a really great guy who is helpful and hard-working and nice.  Keeps to himself most of the time, minds his own business, but still helps others when they need helping.  But also goes a little berserk if you get him too angry.  Slicing and dicing, just not with the aid of adamantium claws, if that makes sense.  And then imagine there's a bad guy who wants to cut down all the trees on Clay Bell's land because he's got this contract to deliver rail ties to the railroad, and Bell's trees are perfect and really ideally situated, and does it actually matter that Clay Bell literally owns that land and those trees and has a perfect right to say, "Nope, can't cut down my trees, bub" if he wants?  

Well, yeah, obviously it matters.  The bad guy doesn't think so, but hahahaha, joke's on him, cuz he's basically just picked a fight with a declawed Wolverine AND all his not-quite-superpowered cowboy friends, and this is not going to end well for you, Bad Guy!  Mwahaha.  Good will triumph.  After a lot of shooting and punching and some stuff getting burned up.

Also, there's a girl.  She's almost engaged to marry the bad guy, but duh, she's simply powerless to resist falling in love with Clay Bell.  Who probably looks exactly like Hugh Jackman.  Or a young Alan Ladd.  Love is inevitable.

Also, there's this kinda old dude who sorta runs the town, and he was not evil.  When was the last time I encountered a guy who runs a town who is NOT evil?  I don't even know.  It was great.

This is still kind of a dumb review.  Just read the book.  It's awesome.  I might just go read it over again.  And then watch the Alan Ladd movie based on the book, because I haven't seen it yet, but I own it already, so I should just watch it, shouldn't I.

(From my Bookstagrammer adventures)

Particularly Good Bits:

He glanced over at Coffin, fine lines of remembered laughter showing at the corners of his eyes (p. 2).

A large -- rather forceful gentleman?"  Clay's expression was almost too innocent.  "With a mustache and an opinion?" (p. 14).

These men who stayed had not been wealthy men, but they had been steadfast men, confident men, strong with an inner strength that knows not defeat.  Such men had built this town, had kept it alive, and would make it grow (p. 18).

She had never been a girl who depended upon others for pleasure, excitement, or entertainment (p. 43).

It was midafternoon and the sun lay like a curse upon the town (p. 66).

Jud Devitt was a man with an eye for a well upholstered blonde (p. 135).

Randy Ashton was a girl who looked as if born to a dance hall, but she was a girl whose heart only beat in tune to cotton print and kitchens (p. 137).

Too long had these people lived by the gun.  These men and women had crossed the plains, they had fought Indians and outlaws, and they had built homes where it took strength to build and courage to fight -- and the willingness to fight was still a social virtue of the highest order.  The town was not yet tame (p. 165).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for western violence, a big of vague innuendo, and possibly a few cuss words, though I don't recall any at the moment.


  1. Replies
    1. Jessica, YES, YOU DO! Though I think you're not going to like the big fight at the end since you don't like L'Amour's longer action scenes, IIRC. But don't let that scare you off -- the rest of it you will looooooooooove.

  2. I loved the review! That's how I review things XD
    I know the feeling of reading someone else work and just glaring at your own like how???

    1. Awwww, thanks, Skye! Sometimes I just have more ideas and feels than words to put them in, you know?

      Yeah, I hate it when I start comparing my stuff to really good authors cuz there's no way I'm going to come out well in that scenario. I try not to do it, but sometimes... it happens. I think I learned from this one, though! I hope so, anyway.

  3. Nice review. Another L'Amour book to add to my list. Was the Alan Ladd film also called Guns of the Timberlands?

    1. Stanley, the Alan Ladd movie has the same title, minus the 's' at the end of 'Timberlands' for some reason. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but it's next up on my to-watch list.

    2. Stanley, I watched the movie tonight, and it is WILDLY different from the book. Still wrapping my head around it in some ways, it's so different. You still have rancher vs. logger, and there are a couple characters named things from the book, but that's all. It surprised me in a couple places in good ways, but it also has Frankie Avalon singing some croony '50s songs, so... you get what you get, I guess.

    3. Funny. I had just started reading the book the day I got your response about the movie. The movie sounds like it's based on the book in name only.

    4. Stanley, yeah, pretty much. More inspired by the book that based on it, I guess.


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