This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced one fantasy author.
Education of A Wandering Man
by Louis L’Amour
Despite my love for Western cinema and history of the Old West, I’ve never had that same love for the genre in literature. I’ve read and enjoyed tons of men’s action and adventure novels, but something about most Westerns I’ve read has always left me feeling a bit … fake? I’m not sure. I guess I expect more from Western literature, as in it should be realistic, than I do Western films, which often aren’t realistic.
I don’t mean to be a snob about it. It’s just personal taste, I suppose. Of all the Western novels I’ve read, those by Larry McMurtry have been my favorites, but those drew me more to an interest in history than Western fiction.
Even the greatest and best known of Old West authors, Louis L’Amour, could not make me a fan of the genre. I’ve read a half dozen or so of his novels and short stories over the years, and they weren’t anything to snarl against, but they still didn’t pull me in.
However, all that being said, L’Amour’s autobiography of his younger days as a traveling, blue-collar worker (sort of like a hobo with odd jobs) did bring me excitement.
It’s an awesome story of how L’Amour moved from town to town, nation to nation, traveling the glove while working at hard, back-breaking jobs. He did this in order to gain life experience, his thinking that it would make him a better writer once he finally settled down to actually become a writer. Because being a writer was what he had wanted to do all along. It worked out for him.
My favorite story from this book is how L’Amour was working a mine the Death Valley, then for some reason or other (can’t remember off the top of my head), he had to leave Death Valley. But there were no automobiles. There weren’t even horses. What did L’Amour do? He had to walk out of Death Valley.
I won’t tell any more of L’Amour’s tales, because he can tell them far better than myself, but if you have an interest in the Old Western, biographies and/or writing, do yourself a favor and check out Education of a Wandering Man.
It is an awesome tale.
Up next: Starship Troopers