I was writing a scene set in an alley of the kind most of us over fifty are probably familiar with when I realized that there are millions of people who probably won't have any real feel for what I'm describing. Most of the alleys I played in had weathered garages and dirt surfaces and an infinite number of places perfect for playing cowboys and Indians or war or even, if your mind was particularly inventive that day, buccaneers. Alleys were the preferred meeting place for my group of friends. Sometimes we had to suffer older bullies who invaded from other alleys; and sometimes we bullied invaders not as old as we were. Your alley--or at least your part of it, if it was long--was your territory dammit. There were always girls and much as they were denied, crushes bloomed and proved distracting. Even for a nine year old it was hard to keep your mind on being a cowboy when a glimpse of your secret love had just devastated you. Garages were the shrines of secrecy. In the ancient sunbeams through dusty windows, the air rich with the scents of car oil and rubber tires and mower blades smelling of new mown grass...here was where forbidden cigarettes could be smoked or nudist magazines could be passed around or plots against bullies hatched. That era has passed. No garages in most housing developments, nor certainly in McMansion-land. I'm not a sentimentalist about the old days. For all its failings this is a fine splendid time to be alive. But I do miss alleys. They were like theaters and you got to play anybody you chose to.
Science fiction writer Kenneth Mark Hoover was kind enough to review my novel Wolf Moon so being the immodest bastard I am, here his take on it:
Western Noir Masterpiece
As a professional writer it is a rare occurrence when I come across a book which envelops me so completely I'm able to doff my critical/authorial/editorial/writer cap and just ENJOY the story within.
Wolf Moon by Ed Gorman enabled me to do that.
This is Western Noir at its very best. Everything clicks here. The writing is as good as anything I've ever seen, particularly when you're talking about an overall genre that is known for its embarrassing hackery, stiff characterization and hoary themes.
Not so Wolf Moon. This is a literate and terse novel that hits you hard. Gorman presents the West as it was and not as Hollywood wishes, or as we hoped it might be. No riding off into the rosy-hued sunset here. There is violence, and love and duty and honor among all the characters, even the more repellent ones in this story. Even better, Gorman knows the West and presents it, warts and all. He is unapologetic when we learn through the protagonist, Chase, that we will not see a happy ending to his life and the woman and child he loves. But even amid all the raw humanity that Gorman writes about in Wolf Moon there is still room for tenderness and love and human passion. Gorman weaves it all together and makes this one of the most memorable novels I have read this year.
I highly recommend this book. Seriously, it's extremely good. Give it a peek.
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I spent a large chunk of my kidhood in those alleys, Ed.
And I agree with the review of WOLF MOON. A fine novel.
I roamed the West in those alleys, too. Shot many an owlhoot with my Fanner 50 or Nichols Stallion .38. Wolf Moon is now officially on my reading list.
Is Wolf Moon out now, Ed?
I'm working on a novel I was going to call "Wolf Moon." It's a thriller that takes place on the first human colony on the Moon they call Wolf Moon. The second colony is called Snow Moon using Indian terminology, etc. Given the completely dissimilar topics would you have a problem with that?
I really admire this, I mean it really looks interesting! Very nice write up. Anyways, its a Great post.
I really enjoyed Wolf Moon. I'm taking a "Fiction of the American West" class here at BYU-Idaho, and your story was one of my favorites we've read so far. Great job! Definitely not a stereotypical western story.
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