Louis L’Amour – the author who introduced me to the Wide Wild West

Long before I saw any cowboy movies, long before I knew about the real canyons, long before I knew about the cattle country in the map, when “West” was a direction the sun sets in, Louis L’Amour entered my life. Dusty canyons, cattle trails, shooting from the hip, his writing made you smell the dust and feel the blistering heat. WWW (Wide Wild West), was introduced to me by the captivating, edge of the seat books that he wrote.

Our school library had a very good and very old collection of his titles that had as much dust on them as the deserts he wrote about. With no chick flicks to borrow on a particular day, I was forced to dust and take west into my hands. It is still comfortably resting after countless years later.  I do not remember the title of the first book I read, but then it does not matter, I was mesmerized from the first page on. He transported me from the dusty plains of small town South India, to the dust bowls of the cowboy country without any effort. At the same time, a chance reading of an old National Geographic about Texas, gave my imagination an anchor. Not that I needed one, what with the way he wrote. If you are reading my nostalgia posts for the first time, you would need to know that all this was before the cable and satellite TV invasion. So, the only visuals we had then was the occasional movie and the magazines.

“There is nothing that a good night’s sleep will not cure”, these words always flash in my mind, whenever I hear or read anything remotely connected to the cowboy world.I do not remember the exact words or the book in which I read, but I vividly remember the scene. It was after a long tiring chase, and the hero had been bone tired, with a long way to go. It was then that he says these words, and they have been imprint in my mind since then. I always recollect them after a long tiring day.

Regular readers of his books lived with the Sacketts. Cassidy and Kilkenny were other favorites of mine. Whatever the name and place of the hero, they all had one thing in common. They were quick on their feet and even quicker with their gun. They all “shot from the hip”, so to speak. Heroines were there but few and far between. It is a cowboy world with guns, horses and cattle all the way. There are too many favorites of mine to name here, but Riders of Last Creek, is one book that I read and re-read.

There are many other writers in this genre, but none like Louis L’Amour. Many in the current generation might not have heard or read him, but if you want to savor the west in the print medium, there is no one else who could capture your imagination better.

I am reading his autobiography now and will write a review once I am done.

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