For several years, I had an unshakeable (or so I thought) and unexplainable aversion to westerns – books, movies, whatever. It may have been because my younger brother, Noah, was obsessed with cowboys when he was six or seven and so I thought that westerns were more for little boys. Kind of makes sense, but I still don’t remember ever coming up with a good, solid explanation for why I disliked tales of the Old West. Until one fateful day in February 2015… *cue dramatic music*
…when I watched The Magnificent Seven. Even though I couldn’t hear the dialogue very well because our TV didn’t have a good sound system, I drank in every word, every awesome character, every great scene, and every note of that splendid music. (It’s one of those movies that I wish I could go back and watch for the first time all over again.) In the next couple of weeks, I believe I showed it to every family member who wasn’t there when I watched it the first time and, all told, I’ve watched it seven or eight times to date (and I’m sure that number will continue to grow).
From then on, I adored westerns and I watched as many of the classics as I could get my hands on. I was still leery about western fiction, though, because from the few bits of Christian western fiction I’d read, I figured any book in the genre would be a pile of worn out clichés. But THEN I read some of Louis L’Amour’s short stories…and read them…and read them…and read them. After branching out into True Grit and Shane (and a couple of western TV shows), the western genre was one of my favorites and I started writing it, too. So now I’m completely sucked in, with no chance of ever escaping (not that I’d want to), but just as I couldn’t figure out why I disliked westerns in the first place, I can’t really figure out why I love them now.
Okay, I can think of one reason: THE COOLNESS FACTOR.
Honestly, westerns are the coolest thing ever. Cool clothes that practically shout “Awesome style!” (and that make pretty much anyone look good – if you don’t look good in a uniform, you’ll look good in cowboy garb as Lee Majors so handily illustrates) with the cowboy hats and chaps and buckskin fringe and leather and all that great stuff. Oh, and don’t forget the rather gorgeous dresses and hats that the women wore. And then there’s the horses and shoot-outs (seven words: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) and soaring soundtracks in the movies and southern drawls and it’s alllll so epic and cool.
And what about the stories of action and adventure, tender romances, drifters always looking for a place to call home but never finding one (SHANE *cries forever*), cattle drives, bank robberies, bounty hunters, and all that? Westerns are always interesting, spellbinding, crammed full of excitement and drama, usually peppered with engaging characters. I have yet to watch or read a badly done western – there’s just so much potential in the genre!
I guess what I’m trying to say in this scatter-brained excuse for a post is this: I love and adore westerns and I always will. That’s all.