Monday, September 11, 2006

Rereading Books

There are so many books to read that I very, very seldom reread one, no matter how much I enjoyed it. There are, however, a few exceptions. One book that I've reread is The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen, which I'm on record as claiming to be my favorite book of all time. I've also reread William Zinsser's On Writing Well, which deals primarily with non-fiction but which I believe is a good lesson plan for any writer. I've reread The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury, and the first three books in Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. The only "classic" I've ever reread is The Old Man and the Sea, which is almost cheating since it's really only novella length. But the book that holds my personal record for the most rereads (at least 4) is a western by Louis L'Amour called To Tame a Land.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine named Steve Tompkins made the point that where westerns are concerned, the "eyes" have it. He meant that western movies such as Once Upon a Time in the West and The Outlaw Josey Wales were superior to any written western. Now Steve is a great guy and highly perceptive, but in this case he is quite simply wrong. Those movies are great ones, and are two of my favorite movies, but I'd toss either of them aside without a second thought on my way to To Tame a Land. As proof? Well, I've reread it at least as many times as I've watched any movie, ever. And considering that it takes longer to read a book than watch a movie, and that it requires more effort, I'd say my claim is supported.

1 comment:

cs harris said...

I was a huge fan of Western movies and TV shoes growing up, but I don't know if I'd say they beat out the best books. One of my favorites as a kid was MONTE WALSH, which I liked than SHANE--at least as a 13-year-old. And I actually thought the book The Outlaw Josey Wales was better than the movie.