Monday, December 21, 2009

After The Bugles - Book Review

After the Bugles is the second book of Elmer Kelton's Texas Sunrise volume and takes up right where Massacre at Goliad leaves off. Kelton changes the point-of-view of his narrative - we're in third person now, rather than the point-of-view of Josh Buckalew, and I think that makes this novel a slighter one than the first and not just because of its length; this books is slightly shorter than the first, even though it gives Kelton the chance to develop other characters a little more deeply. It's just that something is lost by losing Buckalew's viewpoint; it seems, somehow, less authentic.

But it's still a good story. No battle scenes like the first but there's plenty of suspense as the characters are forced to face down retreating remnants of the Mexican army, outlaw types, and Indians. Sure, this is the stuff of pulpy Westerns but Kelton never makes them feel like stock scenes. Most of the story concerns the characters trek back to their homes after wartime and how they rebuild, and come to terms with their feelings about one another and living in a post-war Texas world. Very well done.

I'm looking forward to finding some more Kelton but that's all I have on hand for now. I've got my next allotment of Hemingway to get through and then two other books I checked out from the library before I'm free to choose another.


  1. Peter, I've started reading Billy Collins, as your recommended a while back on Twitter.

    Collins's writing is wonderful, brilliant, creative and full of surprises. I am thoroughly enjoying it. Thanks!

  2. Hi, Michael,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving the nice comment. I'm glad you're enjoying Collins; you're absolutely right about his writing. He first caught my eye as Poet Laureate of the United States. He started a poem-a-day program for high schools called
    Poetry 180
    . The two volumes of that poetry he edited is worth taking a look at, too.

    For me, reading his poetry, or any poetry you enjoy, is kind of like reading blogs. Just a brief sip and your eyes are opened to another way of looking at things.

    As for you, my friend, you've given me a road trip to Alaska and a lot of blowing-coffee-through-your-nose-moments from your blog and tweets. Thanks for those.