The Buffalo Hunter by Zane Grey

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The Buffalo Hunter by Zane Grey

Title: The Buffalo Hunter
By: Grey, Zane
Published: 1925 [1979]
Call #: Fiction Grey.Z

I love a good Western , don’t you? But my enjoyment has come mostly from the movies and TV programs of the 50s and 60s, not books. Sure, I did read a couple of more “literary” novels set in the West (think Lonesome Dove or The Ox-Bow Incident). And although I’m quite aware of all those core westerns by Louis L’Amour, Max Brand and Zane Grey because of the large number of mostly male, mostly older patrons who request them, I’d never cracked one open. So, in a effort to tackle the Reader’s Advisor “Never-in-a-Million-Years” challenge, I chose this collection of Grey’s short stories. There’s shootin’, ridin’, cowboys vs. Indians (along with all the accepted-at-the-time pejoratives and caricatures of Native Americans, African Americans and Mexicans, oh and women, too), and plenty of descriptions of the rugged western terrain. Grey’s writing, if a little flowery—a stylistic trait of the time—is quite good. He does not talk down to his readers. His story pacing is excellent. Dialogue is “cowboy” talk in dialect, action is fast-paced, tension is kept high. He’s a master at conjuring up the romance of the Old West, especially to an audience of city-dwellers longing, perhaps, for the excitement and adventure of that short-lived era. These are definitely male-oriented yarns* dealing with cattle rustlers, Comanche ambushes,  stampedes, an occasional damsel in distress, and more. The delineations between good guys and bad guys are clear, though Grey can be nuanced here.  So, did I like these tales? Would I select an old-style western again? Yes, I liked it, but let’s just say, this one will hold me for  a good long stretch…I reckon.

*This just in: As I was typing this review, a patron—a woman of a certain age—saw the book and stopped to comment. “Oh, now that’s an old one. He [Grey] was such good writer!” So, there was probably some appeal amongst the ladies, too. Was it the manly men, the romance of rescue, the thrill of danger? I’ll bet it was.

Barbara L.


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