Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Best of the West, Vol. 1: Classic Stories of the American Frontier (Western audiobook anthology)

Best of the West, Vol. 1: Classic Stories of the American Frontier is a 2009 audio anthology of classic and modern classic Western stories by a wide range of authors from Matt Braun to Zane Grey, from Will Henry to Elmer Kelton. Here are some highlights:

Author Gordon D. Shirreffs (Rio Desperado) is always good for a Western filled with complex characters and situations, and "Death Hires These Guns!" is no different. Reed Emmons is in the Mexican border town of Nogalles when he gets word that his brother Rance was killed by a backshooter. Of course, he wants revenge, but he has trouble getting a bead on the killer.

First, it's Burt Whitman, marshal at the Cottonwood seat, but the evidence is circumstantial. Turns out Rance was seeing Whitman's sister Aurelia. But when Reed goes in disguise and finds Whitman had nothing to do with his brother's death, will an extra complication make him go through with his plan anyway?

In Loren D. Estleman's "The Death of Dutch Creel" (also available in his Western collection The Bandit and Others), someone who was actually at the titular event (in a way) sets the record straight after seeing a particularly sensationalist "authentic" retelling at the pictures. Arte Johnson's reading emphasizes the wry humor.

Gary McCarthy tells the story of a frontier doctor, James Stanton, who needs to learn how to "Grab, Root, and Growl" if he's going to marry the woman he loves. On the cusp of ending their relationship, he gets his chance. McCarthy portrays another kind of "true grit" here, in having Stanton show that one person's definition of "quitter" does not suit everybody.

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