Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Boot Hill: An Anthology of the West by Robert J. Randisi

"They died with their boots on."

© Forge Books
Boot Hill: An Anthology of the West (2002), edited by American author and anthologist Robert J. Randisi, is a remarkable and delectable collection of original short stories by some of the finest Western authors. Of the 15 stories only The Naked Gun by John Jakes (1967) is a reprint.

I borrowed the 351-page digital book from Archive.org and I have a fortnight to read all the stories before it probably vanishes automatically. I'm sure there's a waiting list. The stories revolve around Boot Hill in Dodge City, Kansas, the final resting place of some of the wildest and bizarre characters that rode the American West—“from the coffin-maker with a death wish to the drunken cowboy haunted by one night of greed and violence, to the vigilante piano man and the tough-talking soiled dove.”

So far I have read only Randisi’s pithy introductions of all the writers and his own enjoyable and rather humourous short story, The Gravediggers, where the eponymous Gravedigger welcomes the reader to Boot Hill and, in characteristic Old West lingo, talks about the history of the place, the “dead folks” and their stories (“if’n they could tell ’em that is”), the backbreaking work of digging graves, the bare wooden headstones (“with some writin’ on it”)...

The Gravediggers sets the tone for the remaining stories that I look forward to reading over the next few days. Meanwhile, here is the cast of authors in order of appearance.

01. The Gravediggers by Robert J. Randisi
02. The Naked Gun by John Jakes
03. The Ghost of Abel Hawthorne by Elmer Kelton
04. Sinners by Wendi Lee
05. The Guns of Dusty Logan by James Reasoner
06. Hard Ground by L.J. Washburn
07. The Comfortable Coffin of Miz Utopia Jones Clay by Tom Piccirilli
08. Anonymous by Randy Lee Eickhoff
09. The Last Ride of the Colton Gang by John Helfers and Kerrie Hughes
10. The Sellers by Troy D. Smith
11. The Piano Man by Robert Vaughan
12. Dead Weight by Richard S. Wheeler
13. A Disgrace to the Badge by Ed Gorman
14. Planting Lizzie Palmer by Marthayn Pelegrimas
15. A Damned Nuisance by Marcus Galloway


A Western anthology can’t get better than this.


Note: Writer-blogger Patti Abbott is hosting Friday's Forgotten Books over at her eclectic blog Pattinase, where you can read some fine reviews of forgotten or overlooked books.

18 comments:

  1. Randisi is a fine writer and there ae some familiar names there, John Jakes, Elmer Kelton, James Reasoner and L>J> Washburn, plus Troy Smith and Robert Vaughan, and Ed Gorman. I'll have to get this somehow.

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    1. Oscar, the celebrity list of writers is what attracted me to this anthology, though I also need to read their works individually.

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  2. Sounds good but there's too much on my plate already.

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    1. Col, there's a lot on my plate too and I'm not talking only about reading. I'm still reading my way through this anthology.

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  3. It sounds like a fine collection, Prashant. And to me, it's interesting how the West, both old and contemporary, has a hold on many popular cultures.

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    1. Margot, I absolutely enjoy reading in the genre. Westerns are a combination of almost all other genres.

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  4. I hope you finish the book before it disappears. Your enjoyment in the read is obvious so it will be worth your while to somehow find the time to read this one.

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    1. Mystica, I'm already running out of time and if I do, I'll try and borrow the book again. It's definitely worth reading.

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  5. This looks like a great read, Prashant, I think I would enjoy trying those short stories.

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    1. Tracy, I think you'd enjoy the Boot Hill stories because of the distinct styles of all the contributors.

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  6. Looks like a heckuva lineup. Gotta check this out

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    1. Charles, it's a terrific lineup of Westerns authors, some of whom I have read in the past.

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  7. I have dozens of Randisi westerns, but I don't have this collection. I'll have to track down a copy! Thanks for the heads up!

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    1. You're welcome, George. It was a surprise find. I have enjoyed reading a couple of Westerns by Robert J. Randisi, and would be reading others from his prolific pen.

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  8. Good to see Gorman and Wheeler in there!

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    1. Mathew, while I have read Ed Gorman, I look forward to reading Richard S. Wheeler's novels. Both are such terrific writers. Gorman, sadly, is no longer with us.

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  9. This sounds right up your street Prashant! Probably not to my taste so much, but I hope you enjoy...

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    1. It certainly is, Moira. I haven't been reading as many Westerns as I'd like to every year.

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