Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Western Wednesday- Louis L'Amour

I don't think there's a reader of westerns,-romance or otherwise- who hasn't read or doesn't know about Louis L'Amour.
 My grandpa had a huge stack of westerns beside his chair. He was a man of few words but he loved to read westerns and he'd lived some of the life that was written about in the westerns. Grandpa had been a hand on a ranch, driving teams of horses to put up hay and feed the cattle. He rode horses to mend fence and helped with branding. He'd been a railroad man and a cowboy most of his younger years. I believe the stories in the westerns resonated with Grandpa because he had lived the life.

Louis L'Amour and my grandpa would have been about the same age. Louis was born in 1908 in  Jamestown, North Dakota.  His father was a veterinarian who also sold farm equipment.

Between his grandfather's stories about the Civil War and Indian wars and his encounters with cowboys as well as his experience as a cowhand on ranches, Louis used this information to build the stories and characters in his books.

His love of reading started with history books and expanded to fiction when his sister worked as a librarian. His interest grew from reading books by Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London and Edgar Rice Burroughs. These tales of adventure captured his imagination.

His mother, father, brother John, and Louis, had a seven year odyssey where they traveled he west looking for work. Louis skinned cattle in west Texas, baled hay in the Pecos valley of New Mexico, worked in the mines of Arizona, California, and Nevada and in the sawmills and lumberyards of Oregon and Washington. During all this traveling and working he met many of the characters who graced the pages of his books.

Traveling as he did also gave him firsthand knowledge of the vast territories he wrote about.

During his career he wrote 89 novels and 14 short story collections.

Do you have a favorite Louis L'Amour novel?




32 comments:

Vicki Batman said...

I have one of his books I've saved for a very long time--Last of the Breed. And it isn't a western, but the story captivated me.

derekd said...

Wow. Haven't thought about Louie in a while. My middle school and high school years were filled with reading him. I don't know if I read every one of his westerns, but I'll bet I came very close.

I couldn't pin down one title, particularly not since it has been 30+ years, but I do remember re-reading all the Sackett clan books. Thanks for the reminder of a wonderful author who kept me entertained for countless hours.

Paty Jager said...

Vicki, I think all his traveling and meeting so many people helped him really grasp how to make believable characters.

Derek, You're most welcome. Thanks for stopping in.

Diana Mcc. said...

My father read a lot of Louis L'Amour novels. I haven't read any of the books. I might have to re-think that, and buy one to try. Good informative post.

Ginger Simpson said...

I read lots of Louis' books years ago, but I have problems remember titles from last week. I don't remember seeing my grandfather read anything except the newspaper, but he always had some 'shoot-em-up' on the TV. It's no wonder that western historical novels are my favorite genre to read and write...I had a steady diet of them, my entire life. My mother, who is 87, still watches all the old Gunsmoke re-runs on TVland. Thanks for the trip back in time. :)

Andrea Downing said...

I always thought L'Amour was a pen name! I mean, you couldn't make up a better author's name if you tried. Was it?

Tanya Hanson said...

Excellent post, Paty. I love The Haunted Mesa, and ironically, one set in the 12th century, The Walking Drum. Have a mind to re-read them both after this post! Good one.

Lauri said...

My mother had all of his books, some of them had been my grandfather's, and they were the only thing that caused a 'discussion' while we were cleaning out her house. My brother had claimed them as did my brother-in-law. Being the 'executor' I had the final say, but when that 'discussion' started I exited stage left. Figured they were grown men and could come to an agreement without me. They did and all ended well. And I never had to mention how she'd given me the duplicate copies she'd had over the years.

George Guthridge said...

Hi,

The most interesting story about L'Amour I have ever come across is that he took a job doing what he thought would be an exciting opportunity helping run a mine. It turned out that he was the watchman for a mine -- and there was no one else at the mine anymore. So he got paid for writing while watching a mine where no one was. If I remember correctly there was no one else around either -- period.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Diana. It was good seeing you yesterday.
Wish I could have stayed longer.

You're welcome, Ginger. I think we all grew up on Gunsmoke, the Virginian, and the like.

Andrea, it was a pen name, sort of. He was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore.

Thanks Tanya. He had so many good books.

LOL Lauri. That's a great story.

Paty Jager said...

George, That's a good story and a perfect fit for a writer! Watching something that didn't really need watched and having time to write.

Caroline Clemmons said...

I've read each of his books and we have them in hardbound copies. I like each of them in varying degrees, but my favorite is FALLON. LAST OF THE BREED was also especially good, and I love the Sackett novels.

Paty, did you change the photos on your header or is it my bad memory?

Lyn Horner said...

My dad was an avid Louis L'Amour fan. I inherited all his books and still keep them on my shelves. Once in a while I pull one out to read or just look through. They're an excellent source of inspiration for any wester author. I, too, love the Sackett series.

Paty Jager said...

Caroline, Those are good choices. I did change the header. It matches my website.

Lyn, It's pretty unanimous about liking the Sacketts. I agree they are good inspiration.

Vonnie Hughes said...

All of the Sackett books were our favorites. Even though we are not from USA, just love Louis!

Sarah Raplee said...

I loved reading Louis's books when I was a teen, along with Zane Gray's. L'Amour brought realism to his westerns for sure!

Enjoyed the post, Paty.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Vonnie, We'll share our westerns with anyone who wants to feel what life was on the western frontier. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Where are you from?

Hey Sarah! Zane Gray will be another Wednesday western post down the road. Thanks !

erikasnotebook said...

I loved his books when I was younger, and I think I have all of them, somewhere... in the library that fills a downstairs closet. Thanks for reminding me, think I'll go back and re-read them.

Thing I always liked was his respect for women, at least the ones in his stories that were worth a damn.

D'Ann said...

All of them! I can't remember the name, but the one when the hero's wife has been killed and he makes a fresh start....

Donna said...

I do have a favorite and it's the Sackett series.

Donna

Kathy Otten said...

I used to read Louis L'Amour, Max Brand and Zane Grey while sitting in the front row of history class. I always assumed since I got straight A's that was the reason the teacher never said anything. I always love Louis L'Amour's attention to detail and accuracy and his strong sense of place. Aside from the Sackett series, my favorites have always been Flint and Bendigo Schaffer.

Kathy Otten said...

Also I seem to remember reading or hearing somewhere that his grandfather had been scalped. Do you know if that's true?

Tammy Patton said...

My mom used to read her dad's Louis L'Amour books when she was a teenager. When I was in high school I babysat for a couple who didn't have a tv. I discovered their Louis L'Amour collection one night when the kids were in bed, and I was bored and a bit lonely. I remember being surprised at how good it was. Just imagine how many others have similiar stories. He left quite a legacy.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Paty,
That's easy. "Passing Through" is my favorite of all his books. I've read them all, I believe. He was a wonderful story teller, and he had an excellent editor.

Teagan Oliver said...

My father always had and still does have the entire Louis collection of books. Dad was a huge proponent of his girls learning to love reading and he showed up by reading himself. He also would quote from Louis' books quite often and when we would travel to a particularly remote section he would always call it "Sackett Country". I read one years ago, but can't remember which one. I may have to pick up the books again.

Kris McConville said...

Paty,

Thanks for reminding everyone about one of the greatest, most prolific writers of all time. Louis L'Amour is one of my favorite authors and a big part of the reason behind my love of westerns. I have read a lot of his books and have the entire Sackett series and a combined total of at least 50 of his books and short stories.

It's hard to pick a favorite because he has so many great ones. I think Hondo is actually my favorite.

My father who is about to turn 82 is a huge fan of westerns and we would always watch the movies of Louis L'Amour books. A cherished favorite of OURS is the Sacketts movie which we watched so many times that we had to buy a new copy of the VHS tape.

We also spent hours listening to his audio books in the car on long trips, much to my mother's chagrin.

Great post about a legendary hero and a truly wonderful storyteller.

Paty Jager said...

Erika, I agree. He did give woman respect when other western writers weren't as gallant.

D'Ann, That seems to be the consensus!

Donna, Yes, the Sacketts are good.

Kathy, You naughty girl. ;) I read in class too! The biography I read didn't mention his grandfather being scalped. But he was in Indian wars.

Tammy, Yes, he did.

Hi Jeanmarie! He was a great story teller.

Teagan, I think most of us are going to read a Louis L'Amour book after all this.

Hi Kris, Thanks. We have several of the movies from his books also.

Ilona Fridl said...

Paty,
My dad had a whole collection of Louis L'Amour books and I devoured them when I was a teenager. My favorite was, I think, his last one. I don't remember the name of it. I think it was Mesa something. Anyway, it was a paranormal about the ancient pubelo Indians.

Terri Reed said...

I never read him but my stepfather devoured his books. I remember many Christmas' buying him a new L'Amour book.

Paty Jager said...

Ilona, I'll have to find that one, it sounds like something that would be good inspiration for me.

Terri, Thanks for stopping in.

Sandy said...

Paty, I don't remember reading Louis, but I read all of the Zang Grey series.

I think I read one Max Brand book. One of the guys I worked read westerns, and he convinced me to try it. I read it with the condition that he would read a romance. Grin.

The book I read the hero walked off in the sunset with the horse. lol He liked the romantic suspense.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Sandy!
You can chime in when I talk about Zane Grey. ;) that's great you converted a guy to romantic suspense.