Saturday, January 03, 2015

Louis L’Amour. Dutchman’s Flat (1986)

     Louis L’Amour. Dutchman’s Flat (1986) L’Amour published this collection of short stories to counter want he saw as an unwarranted infringement on his rights as an author. Apparently, another collection of his short stories had been published by their copyright holder. This annoyed L’Amour, who was jealous of his reputation. So he added a few stories to the list and published this collection with Foreword and Author’s Notes. Most of the stories are nice bite-sized pieces, well crafted with tight plots, and just enough setting and characterisation to draw you in for the 10 or 15 minutes it takes to read them.  There’s also a novella, which I skipped.
     L’Amour often ends his stories with the hero settling down with a good woman on good land. He tends to idealise the women, but presents them as tough, self-confident, and independent. It’s pretty clear that the women choose the men, not the other way round. Whether this is L’Amour’s experience or some instinctive inclusion of the courtly love tropes in his stories is a moot point.  But his heroes are definitely knights errant in western dress.
L’Amour is a conscious story-teller. Although he romanticises the West, he wants the reader to know that his tales are based on fact. Still, they are essentially quest romances with a more realistic setting than most. A good read. ** to ***.

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