Elmer Kelton, Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail of a
Elmer Kelton, (1926-2009) lately of San Angelo, Texas, was a native West Texan who wrote about fifty Western novels, won a bunkhouse-load of writing awards for his work, and achieved the status of being the Greatest Western Writer of all time according to the Western Writers of America, the folks who know of such things.
Kelton provided his memoir before his death on September 1, 2009. Buck Kelton, his cowboy and ranch foreman father, eventually reconciled to his son's failure to become a career cowboy. You see his son broke loose from the dusty corral and instead took to the trials and trails of Western authorship, a trade Buck skeptively considered "not working" for his pay. Being reared on the Western plains was no easy life, but for Elmer that was his homeland, in and around Crane and Upton counties on the edge of the
Early home places were named Horse Camp, Sand Camp, and the
Kelton grew up, learning to read the labels on the canned goods, abetted by his mother's home-schooling. Maybe his mother was to blame for his scribbling. He remembers she once wrote a story intended for Ranch Romances magazine. The son took up writing before age 10 at his second-grade teacher's instruction.
He survived ranch life, studied journalism at UT, joined WW II where he met his future-wife Anni in Austria, returned home and wrote for the San Angelo Standard Times, range journals, observed oil field life, began writing short stories, and upon hearing the cautionary comments about how the new fangled media was replacing short stories added novels to his remuda.
The volume is straight forward, poignant, with drops of dry humor. It begins as if he were at a kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee with the reader – scattered with talk about family life and ventures, the land, the lack of rain, the mountains, cattle, and the people he knew, not a few of which were real characters. The pace steps-up with the war, and again with the courtship of Anni, and settles down again as they take up home life on the
Purchase a copy his memoirs; it's a good investment in good reading. If you're not yet a Kelton reader, start with one of these: The Time It Never Rained, The Good Old Boys, The Man Who Rode Midnight,
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