sign of the half-closed eye (ecban) wrote,
sign of the half-closed eye
ecban

a suburban coyote - a lost masterpiece

I saw my first real-life coyote a couple of days ago. I was sitting on a little balcony attached to an apartment in a condo complex. The balcony looks out on a small artificial lake (complete with built-in overflow drain, just like a bathtub), a highway, and a miniature golf course. The coyote trotted out of the tiny patch of woods at the end of the lake, went by the apartments as bold as brass (ignoring the lakeside joggers), disappeared around the next condo building, came back five minutes later with a McDonald's bag in its mouth, and trotted back into the woods, tail in the air and just as proud as can be.

Which brings me to the point where I have to say that some things are just too perfect to comment on. Which then brings me to the point where I say, 'yes, but some perfect things are so unknown, yet so wonderful, that they deserve what few poor words I can give them so that they will be better known, even if I sully them with my poor words.' Which might send me off on a tangent about how I don't actually say things like that, but which won't at the moment. I'm talking about...

Warlock by Oakley Hall - Fuckin' HOT!!!! Holy shit, this book is so good that I'm talking it up before I'm halfway done with it. If it weren't for Independent People (which I'll write about at some point soon), this would be the single best damn book I've read in forever. This book is so good that I don't care if it ends well, because just the first half is more than worth the time. It's so good that it takes an effort to talk straight about it, rather than just cursing and waving superlatives about it. And this surprises the hell out of me, because Warlock is a western and I hate reading westerns. I hate reading westerns because I have never read a western that didn't suck. I've never seen the least sign that, in print, the genre was anything but a barren field of white hats and black hats acting tough.

But this isn't that. It's a remarkable feat by Hall because it has all the hallmarks of a western without sucking like one. No color-coded hats here. Two hundred pages into this book, characters have staked out or declared allegiance to every philosphy of morality and action offered in the early pages of Plato's Republic, with anarchy, communism, and existentialism thrown into the mix. Hall manages to pull this off in a natural way, creating just the right backgrounds and personalities without blowing the setting or making the characters flat and trite, which I wouldn't have thought possible. He just quietly puts them all together in a pressure-cooker of an Old West town, gives them the usual guns (without any hint of the notion that correctness or strength of conviction offer an advantage in a gunfight), and lets them be themselves. Somehow it works on every level.

I'm enjoying it immensely, and at the same time, I'm jealous. I wish I could figure out how Hall did it, because he's managed to do about everything that I wish I could do when I try to write, and do it in a genre that I previously had no regard for at all. And I still have a lot left to read.
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