Thursday, June 25, 2009
Snakes and the Wild West
Despite the brutal heat here in southern Louisiana in June, I’ve been getting out occasionally in the late evening for short walks. And it appears from my walks that our local snake population is doing quite well. Almost every evening I’ve been out, I’ve seen a small snake on the road. I don’t believe they are the same snake, although they look close enough alike to be kin. I’ve seen them in at least three fairly widespread locations. I finally took the camera with me and snapped a few pics. They all look like the one featured here.
The most disconcerting thing about these wee ones is that they look a bit like copperheads to me, although I’ve not gotten down at eye level with them in an attempt to verify that. Even a small snake can cause a man to dance a jig when you nearly step on one. And snakes hardly ever invite you to pull up a patch of ground and visit. They just don’t seem all that friendly a creature.
In other news, I got my copy of The Tarnished Star, by Jack Martin (aka Gary Dobbs), and finished it in a couple of days. It’s really good. Fast paced, and well written in a straightforward, no nonsense style. The characters are clearly defined and you know who to root for. There’s the sheriff, a true upholder of the law, and his fiancé, who is actually a school teacher. There’s a local big rancher who runs roughshod over his opposition. He isn’t completely a villain, but he hasn’t done a good job of raising his spoiled son and therein lies the rub.
There’s considerable action in the book but not a lot of gore. I’ve been thinking lately of the “sub-genres” of western fiction. I’d certainly include The Tarnished Star as a “traditional” western. Think Louis L’Amour and James Reasoner. This is in opposition to the “spaghetti” western, such as the books by Joe Millard featuring the Eastwood character “blonde,” the “hyper-violent” western such as the Edge series by George Gilman, or the “adult” westerns such as the Trailsman or the Longarm series.
All in all, a very promising debut novel from our blogosphere friend.