Posted Aug 21, 2015
When the going gets tough, the tough get going and head west! This week, we’re featuring some rough and tough Westerns from our collection. Yippee ki-yay!
Mary Doria Russell takes a shot at historical fiction with Doc, an embellished biography of John Henry “Doc” Holliday. Well known for his role in the shootout at the O.K. Corral, Russell portrays Holliday’s life prior to the gunfight. Suffering from tuberculosis, Holliday, a well-educated dentist from Georgia, heads to Dodge City, Kansas with his current flame, Maria Katarina Harony, a Hungarian prostitute. Dentistry takes a side role to whiskey and gambling, especially after Holliday connects with Wyatt and Morgan Earp, and things really get rolling. Russell effectively uses characterization, dialogue, and description to create a story Western and non-Western fans alike will enjoy. (And if you like Doc, check out the second book in the series, Epitaph.)
It’s 1826, and twenty-two year old William Wyeth leaves Saint Louis behind to head out into the wilderness on a fur trapping expedition. Settling in on the mountains of Wind River, Wyoming, Wyeth must vie between dream versus reality. The romanticized version of the west is not what Wyeth had imagined, and now he must not only survive the elements but also compete with other fur trade companies. He slowly bonds with the company men as he encounters thieves, dandies, and fine gentlemen. Plus, he’s in love with Alene Chevalier, a widow that Wyeth is hoping is still there when he returns home. There aren’t any cowboys in this Western, but the majestic beauty of the American West itself is an environmental character that holds its own.
After a misunderstanding with white supremacist Sam Ruggert, former slave Willie Jackson heads west in fear for his life. His father was burned alive, and now Jackson takes refuge with Civil War veteran, Tate Loving. Loving teaches him the ropes from literacy, gun wielding, and horseback riding, and with that Jackson becomes a buffalo soldier. Being the lone survivor in an Apache attack, Jackson journeys to Deadwood, South Dakota where he befriends Wild Bill Hickok and falls in love with Win Finn. But, Ruggert is back on his tail, and Jackson needs to face his foe once and for all. Loosely based off a true story, Paradise Sky has all the components of a good, Western yarn.