America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 45-46.

 

Swarthout, Glendon.  The Shootist.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975.

Glendon Swartout’s achievement has been recognized with a number of prestigious awards: the Theatre Guild Playwriting Award in 1947; the Hopwood Award in Fiction in 1948; the O. Henry Prize for the Short Story in 1960; the National Society of Arts and Letters Gold Medal in 1972; and the Owen Wister Award from the Western Writers of America in recognition of his whole body of work in 1991.  Nevertheless, because his novels were commercially successful and often adapted into popular films, his literary reputation has suffered.

The Shootist is Swartout’s best known novel.  Although it received the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America in 1975, its adaptation to film has insured that it will be remembered longer than Swartout’s other novels.  The film adaptation was the last film in which John Wayne starred.  Critically ill with a recurrence of cancer, Wayne played J. B. Books, an infamous gunfighter also stricken with an incurable cancer, who wants a quicker end than the disease promises to give him.  The ironies in Wayne’s choice of a final role gave the already poignant story even more poignancy.  Rooming quietly in a boarding house run by a flinty widow, played by Lauren Bacall in the film, Books arranges a confrontation with three gunfighters seeking to enlarge their reputations at his expense.  Books’ demise then provides a dramatic turning point in the maturation of the widow’s son, played in the film by Ron Howard.

 

Wheeler, Richard.  Masterson.  New York: Forge, 1999.

The recipient of three Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, the most recent for Masterson, Wheeler has produced two series of Western novels.  The “Skye’s West” series includes thirteen novels and focuses on the misadventures of Barnaby Skye, who has jumped ship to escape a forced impressment into the British navy and confronts the additional difficulties of being a wanted man as he makes the difficult passage across the Canadian wilderness.  In the “Sam Flint” series, the title character is a frontier journalist who is drawn to stories that appeal to his progressive political convictions.

In his other thirty-six novels, Wheeler ranges freely across the geographical regions and historical eras of the Western exploration and settlement.  In Masterton, he focuses on Bat Masterton, the renowned lawman who took off his holster to become a sports reporter in New York City.  The novel presents his life story through a series of interviews with Masterson ostensibly conducted by Damon Runyan and Louella Parsons.  In the process of talking about his life, Masterson recognizes the near-futility of trying to separate, for the public record, the facts and the fabrications about his exploits.  With his wife, he undertakes a quest to make a more personal peace with his place in history.

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Previous Posts in This Series:

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 1-2: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/10/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-1-2/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 3-5: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/16/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-3-5/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 6-8: https://academeblog.org/2014/09/20/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-6-8/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 9-11: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/04/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-9-11/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 12-14: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/12/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-12-14/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 15-17: https://academeblog.org/2014/10/21/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-15-17/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 18-20: https://academeblog.org/2014/11/02/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-18-20/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 21-23: https://academeblog.org/2014/11/09/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-21-23/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 24-26: https://academeblog.org/2014/11/23/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-24-26/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 27-29: https://academeblog.org/2014/12/25/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-27-29/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 30-32: https://academeblog.org/2015/01/19/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-30-32/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 33-35: https://academeblog.org/2015/02/05/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-33-35/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 36-38: https://academeblog.org/2015/03/10/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-36-37/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 39-40: https://academeblog.org/2015/03/21/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-39-40/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 41-42: https://academeblog.org/2015/04/05/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-41-42/

America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 41-42: https://academeblog.org/2015/05/08/america-re-imagined-in-retrospect-fifty-notable-american-novels-about-the-west-43-44/

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Posts in the Previous Series:

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 1-3: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-1-3/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 4-5: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/31/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-4-5/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 6-7: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/01/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-6-7/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 8-10: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/04/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-8-10/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 11-13: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/06/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-11-13/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 14-16: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-14-16/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 17-19: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/18/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-17-19/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 20-22: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/25/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-20-22/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 23-25: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/07/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-23-25/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 26-29: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-26-29/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 30-32: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-30-32/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 33: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/29/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-33/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 34-36: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/10/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-34-36/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 37-39: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/15/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-37-39/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 40-42: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/21/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-40-42/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 43-45: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-43-45/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 46-48: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/26/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-46-48/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 49-50: https://academeblog.org/2014/08/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-49-50/

 

 

 

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