The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

True West - Barson

 True West cover

    True West: An Illustrated Guide to the Heyday of the Western.  By Michael Barson.  Foreword by Robert B. Parker.  Fort Worth: Texas Christian University, dist. By TAMU Consortium, 2008.  very stiff paper cover with folded back flaps, 174 pages, 8 ½ x 11, hundreds of colored illustrations, ISBN 978-0-87565-379-2.  $29.95   


Golly! Look at this!  I sure did.  The first two times through the book I hardly read a single line of the text.  The many movie posters, advertisements, book jackets, images of paraphernalia, comic book shots, theatrical playbills, Golden Book imagery, glamour shots, sheet music covers and the like just lure this viewer from page to page like I was a young boy back in Marshall exploring my imaginary family history.  Barson, popular culture historian, shares his Western fodder palaver in glorious style.

It's not just Gene Autry, Dale Evans, Trigger, the Lone Ranger, Cisco, and Hoppy.  Barson goes back to Tom Mix, William Desmond, Errol Flynn, Randolph Scott, and the rest of the gang.

The text includes summaries of maybe 200 films and so forth, with industry history.  Even John Wayne went through dry spell before his ascension to the throne. Surely you remember The Magnificent Seven came from the Japanese Seven Samurai.  And that Hud came from McMurtry's first novel, Horseman, Pass By.  Barson's essay on the once Western dominance of the small screen will leave any reader amazed.

Barson does miss reference to some main points.  My father almost certainly was a consultant to the development of the character Ward Bond in the television show, Wagon Train, or so it seemed to me.  Nor does he recount how each week at the opening scene of the televised Gunsmoke, young boys across the nation stood in the middle of the room, drew their gun against Matt Dillion, and crumpled to the floor, taken down in the showdown with the law.  But forgive Barson such, and get this book before the Red River dries up or Dimitri Tiomkin's music fades behind the next stampede.


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