Louis L’Amour

I’ve been reading him lately, always with Kindle downloads on my iphone. In this manner I’ve read some 31 of his Western tales during the past year or so. I never read L’Amour when he actually wrote his books, mostly in the middle of the last century. Then I was too busy co-directing a family and school.

He is not like so many other popular, best seller fiction writers that I know. Of them, either I don’t read them at all (James Patterson, Stephen King, Dan Brown et al.) or I’m bored by their writing after reading just 2 or 3 of their books (John Grisham, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, and so many more).

But so far I haven’t stopped reading L’Amour, and have probably twice as many of his novels and short stories still to read.

Why do I enjoy his work so much? Well in my own case it’s probably because of my own great liking for the moral universe he has created for a single Western hero found in all his books, whose story he tells over and over again, varying the names but hardly the setting, the South West in the mid 19th. c., and hardly the action, a war to the death between good and evil men over who is to own and profit from the great riches of the Western lands that were then opening up to the settlers streaming in from the East.

John J. Miller in a WSJ article of 2002, sketches a bit of L’Amour’s world, but I will still need to sketch it in much greater detail for myself, perhaps in another Blog posting.

For the moment and for a start, here’s Miller’s take on the Western of Louis L’Amour:

In L’Amour’s moral universe, the good people confront terrific challenges and make hard choices between right and wrong. The bad ones are forces of nature who must be reckoned with….

There are history lessons — never long or pedantic — and sage advice on understanding animal behavior, building undetectable campfires and fighting thirst in the desert.

Many of his heroes are bookish, almost as likely to read Homer and Plutarch as to wear spurs and wield six-shooters. L’Amour never wrote a sex scene, and he did not turn violence into a fetish.

But what I wanted most of all to do today in this Blog, was simply to share the following single phrase, taken from L’Amour’s novel, The Daybreakers that I’m currently reading while once again visiting Paris.

How a single well chosen phrase can sum up one’s take on this life:

You stick your finger in the water and you pull it out, and that’s how much of a hole you leave when you’re gone.

I don’t really believe that, do I, for we do leave holes when we’re gone, don’t we?

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