Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I love westerns.  Always have.  For what ever reason, though, my love for the genre usually doesn't extend to fiction.  I don't know why, but I haven't found many westerns that I've loved reading.  Films... I'll watch a western film every night of the week, and then re-watch them the next week.  Ask my wife.  She loves it.  Anyway, I picked up Brimstone, by Robert B. Parker, on disc from the library, and finished it in two listening sessions.  (It's really short.)  It's about what I expected it would be, good and bad.

Brimstone is book three of a series that started with Appaloosa.  (Resolution is book two.)  I've read Resolution, but never Appaloosa.  The film adaptation of Appaloosa is probably my favorite western of all time, and I didn't want to spoil it by reading the book.  Great movie.  Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are perfect on screen.  (Played by Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen.)  I never wanted to spoil the film by reading the book, and that's why I started with book two.  I've only said all of this so that I can tell you I think the movie does a better job at portraying the relationship between Cole and Hitch.  There are things film can do very well that books can't, like the subtle facial expression that pass between Cole and Hitch.  On paper, their exchanges are very dull.  Here's an example: (the books are told in first-person, from Everett's point of view.)

    Virgil looked at me.  "What you think we should do?" he said.
    "Don't know," I said.
    "Don't know?" he said.
    "Nope," I said.
    Virgil looked away from me and we stared at the dusty road.

I made up the dialogue there, but I kid you not, that is how boring the exchanges are throughout Brimstone.  And the said, said, said, said, gets old fast.  Despite this, I still find Cole and Hitch fascinating characters.  I'm a bit baffled by it myself.  The plot of Brimstone is laughable, there aren't any reversals or twists at the end.  Cole and Hitch do exactly as they say they're going to do, and everything works out perfectly.  But they are still enjoyable to spend time with.

I suggest watching Appaloosa before reading any of the books.  That way, you'll picture Harris and Mortensen in your head as Cole and Hitch, and you can imagine the expressions that pass between them during their dry dialogue.  If you love westerns like me, Brimstone might do it for you.  But you have to love the characters to enjoy the book.  It is character-driven nearly to a fault.

Brimstone gets 2.5 stars out of 5.  If I were reviewing the Appaloosa film... lets just say there ain't stars enough to give.

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