“The Way West”

May 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s hard for me to believe that the Pulitzer committee could follow up the amazing Guard of Honor with a terrible book like The Way West.  It’s even harder for me to believe that it’s only the second in a six-part series.  What’s most bewildering is that the book seems to be incredibly popular and well-loved.  (My library’s four copies are constantly on hold and worn to shreds).  Maybe Westerns just aren’t for me.

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I was telling my husband how I had predicted a scene I thought was an absurd cliche.  He asked when it was published, and pointed out that it was possible A. B. Guthrie might have founded the entire Western genre that took off in the 1950’s.  I didn’t feel inspired enough to research it, but he might well be right.

In my opinion, the characters in this book were shallow, the racial stereotypes were thick and incredibly obnoxious, and all the plot devices were predictable.  I grew up in Oregon, and have ancestors who traveled there in covered wagons, but even that intrinsic interest wasn’t enough to make me like this book.  On the other hand, if you like Westerns and you can look past the flaws in political correctness of the early Pulitzers, you may like this book as much as everyone else seems to.

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