Saturday, August 27, 2011

Doc's Opening Paragraph

Doc Holliday
I suppose it's a product of all those Saturdays I spent in my hometown movie theater when I was a kid.  Ever since then, I have been fascinated by stories of Old West outlaws, the James brothers, the Daltons, Billy the Kid, the Earps (technically good guys, I guess), Doc Holliday, etc.  I have seen countless movies about them (most, of course, nowhere near the truth) and read countless books about them.

So, I was already predisposed to enjoy Mary Doria Russell's Doc when I started it a couple of days ago.  If I had not been, the novel's first paragraph would have surely sucked me right in.
He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle.  The disease took fifteen years to hollow out his lungs so completely they could no longer keep him alive.  In all that time, he was allowed a single season of something like happiness.
What a perfect send-off for a retelling of the story of Doc Holiday and his role in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. corral.  The reader immediately senses that this is going to be as much tragedy as western adventure story, that it is going to be about real people and what made them tick and do the things we still talk about more than a century later. (I am 175 pages into this book and thoroughly enjoying it.)


  1. What a stunning opening. Really looking forward to the review, Sam. I am feeling tempted already...

  2. Nik, you make me smile. I love it when someone tells me that I might just have turned them on to a book they would have otherwise likely missed.

  3. This is on my wishlist. I circled it at Barnes and Noble in Columbia & made the people with me circle as well.

  4. I do think you'll like "Doc," Susan. Great character study of all the principals - as it turns out, not a whole lot on the OK corral stuff, though.