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Revisionist Western Novels by J S Morey

It was only after I had written and published two 'WILD HEARTS ' novels, that I discovered they fitted into the genre of revisionist western fiction, albeit with a romance fiction flavour.


Revisionist westerns became increasingly popular in the 1960's - in film - with the emergence of Spaghetti Westerns, followed by Peckinpah's 'The Wild Bunch' and the immortal 'Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid'. That isn't to say they didn't exist already, especially with western books being less influenced by popular box-office trends.


Revisionist Western vs Traditional Classic Western


Daniel Grabowski best described revisionist 'anti-westerns' as defined by authors Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry, notably as (quote) 'a critical view of the West; a place of violence, exploitation, and oppression, displacement and genocide of indigenous peoples, the exploitation of natural resources, and the rise of industrial capitalism'.


If you add to the aforementioned 'Soldier Blue', 'Little Big Man' films and TV series 'Yellowstone' you probably get the drift. 


But where does 'The Last of the Mohicans' stand in all this? Fenimore Cooper's classic western was published some 25 years before the game-changing real event 'The Battle of the Little Bighorn', so he proved he was 'on point' on the literary front well before the actual historic battle, and well before movies were invented.


The 'WILD HEARTS' novels cover some of the 'issues' going on in the world in the earlier paragraph, principally the plight of indigenous peoples - in our case the Lakota Sioux of Wyoming and Montana. As such they could also be classified as historical western novels since they refer the real events and real situations in Native American heritage.

But they miss out the violence part (a la Peckinpah) as well as the rise of capitalism bit (as in 'Yellowstone').


So - how do 'WILD HEARTS' differ from the classic western?


First of all it is worth remembering the classic western authors Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour defined the genre for many - in print - whereas film versions of western stories starring the likes of Randolph Scott and Audie Murphy saw the western rise to the top in popularity. It coincided with silent movies becoming talkies and the development of 'glorious technicolor' replacing black and white, adding to the romanticism and spectacular backdrop of 1950's films - in all genres, not just westerns.


As for the 'WILD HEARTS' westerns, they are a celebration of the Lakota Sioux whereas previously the 'redskin' (as they were often disgracefully described) were portrayed as enemies of the cavalry and pioneers of the day - the 1800's era. 


Furthermore, 'WILD HEARTS ROAM FREE' and 'WILD HEARTS COME HOME' focus on the spiritual side of Native American culture and values, introducing well-reported myth and legend to add flavour to what could otherwise be regarded as 'romantic westerns'. And unlike stories about earlier settlers they feature the new pioneers - immigrants who sought a new life (but still as homesteaders) some hundred years after 'The Battle of Greasy Grass' (Little Bighorn to you and I) when the origins of this Native American Folklore gained new meaning for indigenous tribes.


Revisionist Western examples with a gentler side 


Like 'Wild Hearts Roam Free', 'Come Home' is another tale of young pioneers venturing into the NEW Wild West but a little later - in the mid-seventies - in and around a Wyoming town. Each story depicts them overcoming tragedy, adversity and embracing the cultures of the region where they discover they can roam free and find their true home.


Furthermore they take a gentler approach compared with the brutality and explicit nature of some of the aforementioned revisionist works written for the box office. This is deliberate in order to come away from some film versions that tend to glorify and over-play the rawness and often cruel nature of certain scenes and characters.


More Lonesome Dove than The Wild Bunch 


As a long-time admirer of McMurtry after reading 'Lonesome Dove', instead the author focuses on relationships and to build a picture of what life was like not so long ago when the Wild West reinvented itself whilst embracing change through mechanisation, commercialism and industry.


Above all, Morey always aims to provide an entertaining feel-good read. John Morey cannot claim to be anywhere near Larry McMurtry as a writer but, he does strive to get close to the latter in portrayal of believable characters, e.g Pea-Eye, Gus McCrae and Captain Call.


More notably, he is a great admirer of the unique way 'Lonesome Dove' develops and explores the romantic relationship between Clara Allen and McCrae. 

As a romance it evades rationalization; you just have to read it.

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid - the book of the film
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy - a definitive revionist western

More information, a free sample read, or to buy a copy of these revisionist western examples, is a click away on each cover.

Cold Dish is the first in the Longmire series of western mystery novels
Wild Hearts Roam Free to seek adventure in the grasslands of Wyoming
Wild Hearts Come Home - revisionist western novel in the ild Hearts series
Dances with Wolves - the book upon which the epic film starrinh Kevin Costner was based
Anchor 1
Anchor 2
Thomas Berger's novel Little Bigman
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper - the earliest revisionist western
The Lonesome Dove novels by Larry McMurtry
The Wild Bunch - the book by W K Stratton of the film by Sam Peckinpah
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