Thursday, January 20, 2011


I enjoyed the movie Appaloosa and thought it was a pretty good western, but I just read and loved the original novel by Robert B. Parker, and think it is an absolute masterpiece.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this novel, other than that it is one of the best Westerns I've ever read. It isn't as epic in scope as, say, something by Larry McMurtry, nor is it as romantic as something by Louis Lamour or Zane Grey, but it is absolutely brilliant and incredibly entertaining. It's a novel about the dynamics between men and women, set against the backdrop of the old west. Kinda. It's also just a novel about gunslingers and lawmen who shoot at lots of people.

My main problems with the film was that Jeremy Irons was wasted as the villain and Renee Zellwegger was plain unlikable as the female supporting lead. In the novel, the villain is more enigmatic and scary than his counterpart from the film, but his role is also downplayed a bit because the novel isn't really about him anyway, so much as it is about the dynamics between the main characters. And since the character of Allie French in the novel isn't portrayed by the always unlikable Renee Zellwegger (sorry!), she's a lot easier to like, or at least enjoy reading about. Parker gives a lot more subtext and life to the character than we find in the novel, almost as though the writer and director of the screenplay didn't really understand the point of the character. Too bad, since her role in the novel is integral to the overall story.

So, I liked it, and I'm already reading the second novel about the two main leads, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. If you like westerns at all, or just fast paced, thrilling novels, check it out. It's a good one.

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