Saturday, July 19, 2008

Louis L’Amour stories

This offering is about an author and books, but not about books we offer in our store. It is unusual, but I do sometimes read books that are not on our shelves.

I like Louis L’Amour stories, books, for a few reasons. His writing is so tight, so good, that I find the stories hard to put down. Each paragraph is interesting, and that takes special writing skill. The most recent book of his that I am reading, a used copy, really old—published in 1983, Santa gave it to me this Christmas—is as engrossing for me as his others have been. What I have found interesting in his writing style this time that I had not noticed before are the chapters. In writing, I know that each sentence is a group of words that makes sense on its own. And a paragraph is a collection of sentences dealing with a single topic. In L’Amour’s books each chapter is a little scene, all presented as a nice little unit. A stranger comes in to an encampment is one chapter. The 10 or 12 year old boy meets a special girl at school. A mysterious man enters a shop, asks provocative questions without giving information about himself, and then leaves. One especially troubling night alone in the desert. Each one is a chapter. They fit together to make the story flow into a book.

His stories are mostly about men or boys-becoming-men in the western U.S. in the middle of the 1800s. The characters were, in the loose term, cowboys, but they were much more.

The stories are about men who are especially strong, brave, skilled. They do fight, both with guns and with their fits, at times, but the stories are more about the strong determination to survive and succeed during hardships. The heroic women in the stories are also strong-willed, and much more aware, effective, and skilled than women in those times were considered to be.

The author combines the story line of events, in this book about the growing up life of a young boy into manhood, with the author’s philosophy on life and encouragement to better oneself. The following quotes are not about the story line. They are instead a description of the author’s philosophical message. Perhaps the message will encourage you.

From The Lonesome Gods, by Louis L’Amour, Bantam Books, 1983, paperback.

Page 164

Show them, Johannes! Become somebody! Do something! Make something of yourself!
Listen to the men who come here. Listen well. Education is by no means confined to schools. Listen to such men talk, hear their philosophy, their ideas about the country, about business, trade, shipping, politics. Listen and learn.
Some people only learn by reading, others by doing or seeing, some by hearing. Learn however you can, but learn!
… all of them. They are men who will make this town into a city. They have ideas, but they do not merely have ideas they put the ideas to work.
You can become bigger, stronger, better than you enemies. You can defeat them by outreaching them, by becoming a more important man, but also by becoming a better one.
All life is base on decisions. Decide now on what you’d like to become and what you would like to do. The two are not necessarily the same, although sometimes they can be.

Page 178.

At another time she had said, “Do not be afraid. A little fear can make one cautious. Too much fear can rob you of initiative. Respect fear, but use it for an incentive, do not let it bind you or tie you down.”

Louis L’Amour does not write about church issues or Christian spiritual issues that are my normal reading fare. He does not write about science and religion that I also enjoy. His books are a good escape for me. I can spend hours engrossed in one of his books. They will not change the world but they are good to read and mostly encouraging to me.

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