In the 1950’s (and a few decades prior) it was pretty easy to find and read some short western fiction if that was your literature of choice. There were scores of western pulps. Today, western readers are generally limited to a few publishers of western novels by a very few western writers.
Law of the Land is a collection of short western fiction by Elmer Kelton, an author whose works have spanned many decades – from 1948 (“There’s Always Another Chance” originally published in Ranch Romances) to 2010 (“The Ghost of Two Forks” originally published in Ghost Towns, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis). That’s an incredible period of work for anyone!
I enjoy reading western fiction (I think I’m among a dying breed) and enjoy short fiction, so a book like this is very much appreciated. That said, everything included in this collection is very well written and an enjoyable read and at the same time, nothing here stands out as being exceptional. This is exactly the kind of book I might select or recommend for a vacation read. They can be read with a limited amount of available reading time.
What makes each of these stories work is that they are about people. In every story, an individual stands out and rises up to solve an issue. These people are clearly drawn and seem so real and act in ways we expect people to react.
This book contains the following:
“Biscuits for a Bandit”
“There’s Always Another Chance”
“Born to be Hanged”
“In the Line of Duty”
“North of the Big River”
“The Ghost of Two Forks”
“Lonesome Ride to Pecos”
“The Last Indian Fight in Kerr County”
“Uncle Jeff and the Gunfighter”
“Die by the Gun”
Looking for a good book? Law of the Land by Elmer Kelton is a really good collection of short, western fiction.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
Law of the Land: Stories of the Old West
author: Elmer Kelton
publisher: Forge Books
hardcover, 320 pages