Monday, July 13, 2015

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey (1912) Illu. Douglas Duer

What a great read. Many parts had my heart pounding. It took me a short while to get the hang of Zane's style and I think I learned a valuable lesson in "Fast - Slow" reading; when you come to the descriptions you have to dial it way back. Some of it was quite sad, the loss of what you have and had because you can't see the truth. The things that we do and say and think are part of the continuum that sets up the rest of our lives. Every step we take slowly limits and slowly creates what we are to  become.

Many criticisms could be laid upon this book but if the bottom line is "I can't put it down" then it passes well.

I had for a long time thought that I would not bother with a "pulp fiction writer" such as Grey but found a 1st Edition for $3 at an Estate sale a year ago and put it onto the "to be read pile."

The annual trip to the Lake was coming up and I had already finished my favorite writer for the summer JFC so while rummaging thru the pile it finally took my hand.

Summed up; it is two separate yet crossing love stories interwoven with Mormon hating, detailed horse riding, and the very grand and very purple scenery of the West.

Our writer was very familiar with both the outdoors and the love affairs, so he speaks from experience. But the "thing" that Writers do; describing the view be it from the eye or from the heart is what sets each of them apart. Initially I was put off by it but once you get into the rhythm it is a fun place to be; Zane can describe with the best of them.

I rarely include pics other than from my own copies but this dust cover painting is captivating.

 The copy I have is an I-N Printing so according to the ZGWS it is a Harper & Brothers, NY 1912, code letters I-N (September 1913) copy although it says 1912.

 Once again I find the most interesting illustrators may be some of the forgotten ones. Douglas Duer is great with drama in a very old but story relevant style. There are some good references on the endless web.

The section regarding the shooting of the Masked Rider includes some creative "Old-timey titillation" otherwise the modesty of the time leaves you deciding when or if they touched each other.

Some of the passages that spoke to me:

I think only a man who had ridden and talked Horses most of his life could envision this. By 1912 Henry Ford had irrevocably changed the landscape of the East but for those who longed for the outdoors I think you could leave the "Modern" world far behind.

Elements of eternal feminine... yes indeed!
In this exchange Bess is immediately jealous; by accounts Grey may have had several occasions to experience the jealous woman. Elements of eternal feminine... yes indeed!

Men were Blood Spillers!
I'm not sure that on this planet we can change this?

Another thing that had always been a question of mine: back long before cell phones a hiker had to REMEMBER the trail. For the 1st time in my readings Zane makes it clear that in fact a wanderer had to actively commit to memory a brain-photo of what it was that he/she needed to know for the return trip. This is and was a life & death matter when there was no way to click it and forget it like we can now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter's Tale by Robert Louis Stevenson (1889)

The Master is a real page turner; RLS makes the most readable stories, this is an extremely engaging story.
The story begins 1745 when two brothers flip a coin to see which one will go to the Jacobite rebellion and which will go to the crown. The family is attempting to hedge their bets during the uprising the end result is the splitting of it.

My 1918 printing has a Preface written by RLS' wife and describes the story of his trials and their travels while finishing this story.

A rough copy but all there.

I really like the cover leaf patterning.
This story takes place over more than 20 years and this family is one dysfunctional mess. The older brother "The Master" with all the gifts; looks, charm, education, hates his younger brother. The younger "steady Eddie" has none of the advantages of birth other than the wealthy family. The Master is an insane risk taker, the younger brother stays at home to rescue the family fortune.

I really recommend looking into this story because of the outstanding stories sub stories, and side stories.

The one passage I set aside that speaks directly to my visions goes something like this:
"Hard by, I told myself, was the grave of our enemy, now gone where the wicked cease from troubling, the earth heaped for ever on his once so active limbs.  I could not but think of him as somehow fortunate to be thus done with man’s anxiety and weariness, the daily expense of spirit, and that daily river of circumstance to be swum through, at any hazard, under the penalty of shame or death."