Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Elmer Kelton, Texas Author, and His Posthumous Novel 'Other Men's Horses'

I've been looking for a new genre author to follow and I may have found one in Elmer Kelton:
Elmer Kelton was born for a life on the range. "Dad gave me every chance to learn to be a cowboy," he wrote in his autobiography. "I was probably the greatest failure of his life. I was always better at talking about it, and writing about it, than I ever was at doing it." Early on, he sensed that his future wouldn't involve cattle drives, at least not directly: "By the time I was eight or nine years old, I fantasized about someday writing the Great American Novel."

Kelton wound up writing something almost as ambitious: a book that may go down as the Great Texas Novel. When Kelton died in August at the age of 83, many of the obituaries cited "The Time It Never Rained" as his finest achievement. The story of rancher Charlie Flagg and his struggles during a terrible drought in the 1950s is not just another western. It's a piece of Western lit.

The reviewer, John Miller, put out a query for good conservative writers of fiction and Kelton's name came up frequently. (As well as my personal favorite, Mark Helprin!) It might be time to check out Kelton and see what all the fuss is about.

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