Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
There is a story, interesting perhaps only to me, behind my acquiring this book. My father, who is an enthusiast of all things representing the American West in the late 1800’s (movies, novels, histories, artifacts), gave me this “critical edition” together with an old dog-eared paperback edition of Shane, and told me a little of my own family history related to it. As little more than a boy himself, starting his journey toward manhood, he disembarked from a bus in San Antonio for his pre-enlistment physical. It was, I believe, his first time away from home where he was without the comfort of family and friends, and facing an uncertain future. He had decided to enlist in the Army, knowing that he’d be given more choices than if he waited until Uncle Sam drafted him for Korea. It was in that San Antonio bus station, on a spinning rack of paperbacks, that he discovered Shane. Schaefer’s story of the heroic gunslinger, the heroic settler, and the boy who idolized them, connected strongly with him. My father told me of falling completely into the story, finishing it on that last bus ride and re-reading it over and over during the next several years. And having now read it myself, I can see a little of both protagonists, the gunslinger and the settler, in the man that my father is, and in the man he has tried to be.
As for the novella itself, I found it an entertaining read, both in story and writing style, although I’m a little puzzled by how it could have inspired so many literary critiques. This “critical edition” contains many more pages in essays and critiques than the story itself, and these were considerably duller, especially as I’ve not read any of the other westerns that were referenced. I suspect that a true fan of the genre would have enjoyed the essays more than I did. But for my father’s sake, I read it all, and we can talk about it more when I see him next.
I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly square Frontierland 2: Read a book with a main character who knows how to handle a gun, or where someone is shot.
5/29/17 91/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1566898/shane-91-432-pg
5/31/17 139/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1567367/shane-139-432-pg
6/3/17 176/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1568132/shane-176-432-pg
6/3/17 191/432 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1568193/shane-191-432-pg