Friday, April 08, 2011

Hop a Long, Git a Long, Read a Long with Elmer Kelton

This is a 1982 edition of a western first published in 1963

James, over at Ready When You Are, C.B., is hosting a western reading challenge during the month of May and I've been looking through my books to see what I might want to read for the challenge.  I have lots of westerns around the house, but I'm leaning toward reading one or two of these:
This is a 1985 edition of a book published in 1959

This is a 1967 first edition of what Ballantine Books called a "Western Original"

This is a 1975, third printing of a book first published in 1960
You will notice that all four of these westerns were written by West Texan Elmer Kelton. I first discovered Mr. Kelton's work in After the Bugles, pictured above, and over the years ended up with several hard covers of his and even one e-book double that I recently purchased. Kelton, in my opinion, wrote (he died in August 2009) better westerns than Louis 'Amour but he never seemed to get the public recognition that L'Amour got.  Kelton, who was 83 when he died, seemed to get better and better as the decades passed, eventually winning "Best Western Novel of the Year" seven times.  I'm always on the lookout for interesting western paperback covers like these but they are getting harder and harder to find.

If you like westerns, or if you want to break new reading ground, go over to Ready When You Are, C.B. to sign up; it's a one-book challenge, so give it a shot.


  1. Yes, I like Kelton very much and have read several. I don't know if I can say he wrote a 'better' western than L'Amour ... I suppose it depends on which one you are reading at the time. However, L'Amour was by far the better publicist and there fore recieved wider coverage.
    Something I'm not very good at. Have you read any of mine? Drop by my blog where you'll find a link to them or they can be found on Amazon or Barnes an Nobel.
    I noticed a very good selection of Elmor Kelton at the local book store today; some of them I haven't read and will be going back in for copies.

  2. Dave, I haven't read any of yours but I'll take a look to see what I can find. Thanks for dropping by.

    I know that "better" is a very subjective word. When I say that Kelton wrote better westerns than L'Amour, what I'm really saying is that I relate to Kelton's style and stories much more than I do to L'Amour's. It all boils down to a very personal definition of quality...more a gut feel than anything else, it seems.

  3. I'm a huge Kelton fan; the stories clip along, and he isn't as stilted as some western writers can be when it comes to historical info. He has nice choices for character names, too, which I think is essential for grabbing onto a character. Lamour was a master there, too.

  4. Good points on Kelton, C.K. Thanks for stopping by.