Friday, January 13, 2012

Remembering My First L'Amour: "BRIONNE"

If you're a typical Louis L'Amour fan, I already know a couple things about you.

First, you've read more of his books his books than you could possibly recount without some serious thought... and second, there was a first book you by read him that got ya hooked out of the gate.

For me the book was BRIONNE, first published in 1968; a Bantam paperback original with an attractive painted cover  [Mine was, I think, the exact edition pictured above.]

Although it's never listed as one of Louis' best books, it was still a great introduction the man's work.  The fast paced story concerns a westward trek made by a typical L'amour hero [Major James Brionne] and his son Mat, who are-- of course-- being pursued by some bad guys from Brionne's past.  Along the way there are 2  mysterious strangers [one male, one female]; some great frontier wisdom imparted from father to son; and a pretty well-written prairie fire sequence.

When I say Brionne is a typical L'Amour hero, I mean that he is well-read, well-educated, an army veteran, and has a strong sense of his own ancestry [In this case the forebears are french, which was-- of course-- somewhat autobiographical for Louis himself.]

I agree with Harlan ellison that what really set Louis aside from all the other competition was his often under-rated writing style, which always conveyed a straight-froward sense of courage and wisdom.  Brionne is just plain good company.

All in all, a great read even... when I peruse it today.  


Anonymous said...

My first L'Amour novel was The Key-Lock Man. I remember being impressed when the hero mentions that only "a tin-horn" would carve notches in his gun handles to represent men he had killed. I had recently read George Hendricks' (non-fiction) The Bad Man of the West, which quoted both Wyatt Earp and Emmett Dalton saying the same thing. So it was clear that L'Amour knew what he was talking about.

Oscar said...

You're right about not remembering. I can't recall the first one I read or the last, but I have three or four laying around that I'll get to one of these days.

Albie The Good said...

ANONYMOUS: I need to read KEY LOCK MAN... that will now be next for me. Sounds great... I personally think his '60s books are the best anyway.

OSCAR: Yeah it's hard to keep 'em straight, ain't it? I usually can tell if I've read one though, once I take a good look at it. In addition to KEY LOCK I am going to get to RADIGAN and THE BURNING HILLS [set in AZ!] which are both currently in my "to do" stack...

Thanks for stoppin' by again, brethren! :)