Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How the West Was Written, Vol.2, by Ron Scheer

David Cranmer, writer and editor-publisher of Beat to a Pulp has announced on his blog, The Education of a Pulp Writer, the publication of the second volume of How the West Was Written, Frontier Fiction, Vol.2, 1907-1915, by Ron Scheer

© Beat to a Pulp
Volume 1, which was released last April, looked at frontier fiction during the period 1880-1906. You can read about it in this post.

Together, the two volumes of How the West Was Written follow the historical trail of frontier fiction spanning thirty-five years beginning with the origins of the cowboy western which, as Ron tells us, “was only one of many different kinds of stories being set in the West.” From there he goes on to trace the evolution of frontier fiction and its “rich legacy” as a genre that is both an entertaining and an educative experience for avid readers of Wild West literature.

Volume 2 of How the West Was Written is described thus:


During the years 1907-1915, frontier fiction boomed with new writers, and the success of Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902) began to make itself felt in their work. That novel had made the bestseller lists for two years running. With the continued popularity of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show, and the appearance of one-reeler westerns on movie screens, many featuring the adventures of Bronco Billy Anderson, the cowboy hero was becoming an established mythic figure in the public imagination. 

For writers of popular fiction, the frontier was also a subject for exploring ideas drawn from current public discourse—ideas about character and villainy, women’s rights, romance and marriage, democracy and government, capitalism, race and social boundaries, and the West itself. With each new publication, they participated as well in an ongoing forum for how to write about the West and how to tell western stories. Taken together, the chapters of this book describe for modern-day readers and writers the origins of frontier fiction and the rich legacy it has left us as a genre. It is also a portal into the past, for it offers a history of ideas as preserved in popular culture of a century ago that continues to claim an audience today.

Author Ron Scheer
© Buddies in the Saddle
To regular visitors to this blog, Ron Scheer needs no introduction. To others, Ron is an authority on frontier fiction. I enjoy reading his penetrating reviews of early western novels and films at his blog Buddies in the Saddle. He examines a western novel or a film in a way that only one well versed in the genre can. David Cranmer has rightly described him as “the premier reviewer of Western literature.” Ron has set a new benchmark of quality and style for reviewing frontier fiction.

David tells us that How the West Was Written: Frontier Fiction, Vol. 2, 1907-1915, is available in print and Kindle formats.

16 comments:

  1. I have both of these and have perused bits and pieces of them. I also read some of the material as it originally appeared on Ron's blog. I need to make an effort to systematically go through these.

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    1. Charles, I have read parts of Vol.1. I like Ron's eye for detail that reflects in this work as well as in his reviews of early western novels.

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  2. I used to watch a lot of westerns with my grandparents as a child, but I can't say I have really read any. Maybe it should be an area I investigate...

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    1. Rebecca, I fell in love with westerns after I first read the SUDDEN series by British writer Oliver Strange, at the age of fourteen. Nowadays I don't read westerns as often as I'd like to.

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  3. This sounds very interesting, Prashant. I had read about the first one. I wonder if it matters whether one starts with this one or the first one?

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    1. Tracy, I think not, unless you want to know the chronology of frontier fiction and succession of writers from 1880 onwards. Check out Ron's comment below.

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  4. Thanks for the plug, Prashant. Both volumes are really like reference books, meant for dipping into, where your interest takes you.

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    1. Ron, you're most welcome. My pleasure. I wish you luck in the success of both the volumes.

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  5. I enjoy the occasional western but I'm probably not enough of a fan of the genre to seek this and the predecessor out, I'm afraid.

    I will be tackling a 600 plus page housebrick Western soon though!

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    1. Col, I look at frontier fiction as an adventure. There is so much happening—good, bad, and ugly—within the pages of a western. I like the way each writer brings his or her own style to the genre.

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  6. I don't read many Westerns myself, but I always like to read your take on them Prashant.

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    1. Moira, thank you. I'd love to read your own take on Clothes in (western) Books and there is plenty.

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  7. Thank you for spotlighting Ron's fine books, Prashant.

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    1. David, my pleasure. I enjoy reading Ron's writings.

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  8. I haven't started Vol. 2, yet, but thanks for the overview, Prashant.

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    1. Oscar, you're welcome. I look forward to reading Vol.2 as well. We're in for a treat.

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