Sunday, November 09, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 57 -- The Searchers

by Alan LeMay

Started: Nov. 6
Finished: Nov. 9

Notes: Books like this are why I love perusing used book shops. Sometimes you find something you didn't even think still existed. For those who don't know, this novel was the inspiration for a 1954 movie starring John Wayne, and many consider the film one of the best Westerns ever to be screened. I've long been wanting to read the original novel, and here's my chance.

Mini review: The writing strikes as a bit old fashioned at first, but that's to be expected from a novel that's 60 years old, and it doesn't impede the reader once familiarity has grown after about 10 or 15 pages. It's actually a darn good story, in many ways better than the movie, though the movie has its own strengths. One thing that surprised me was that the viewpoint character is Martin Pawley, and in the movie the focus is more upon Edwards, the John Wayne character. For the most part the movie sticks with the novel. There are a few name changes and some minor events that are slightly different, but the major change is in the ending. By the time the reader reaches that end, I believe it's a much more personal story than is the movie, which focuses more upon stoic heroics and similar themes common to Western films of the '50s and early '60s (those same themes can be found in later Westerns, but aren't quite as common with the revisionist films coming into their own). I can highly suggest this for fans of Western fiction. Fans of the movie won't find much new here, but this ending definitely goes off into other territory and might be worth experiencing.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've got this but haven't read it. It's on my stack. At one point I bought a bunch of westerns that were inspirations for movies and have been reading through them slowly.

Ty said...

I didn't buy a bunch all at once, but I keep my eyes open and purchase such books when I come upon them. Of all the ones I've read, The Searchers is probably second best only to True Grit for reading material, in my opinion.

Also, in the 70s (I think?) there were a series of Man With No Name tie-in novels, most of them with the words "Dollar" or "Dollars" in the title. I read 3 or 4 of them. Unfortunately, I don't remember them being very good.

The Wasp said...

Thanks for the review. This sounds well worth picking up.