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Forum URL: https://www.louislamour.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi
Forum Name: Louis L'Amour Discussion Forum
Topic ID: 7525
#0, Callaghen
Posted by Sackettter8 on 09-23-23 at 10:41 AM
Callaghen Survival in the unforgiving desert.' A novel.
A tale of outlasting the bitter elements of the desert, Indians, bad men who will kill relentlessly, unforgiving without a shred of mercy. Great tale of survival in the desert with bad guys following that killed his wife and burned his house down...
I don't think any other writer could describe the desert like L'Amour, the landscapes, the mountain ridges and canyons, the plant life that has its own way of continuing to live in such harsh conditions,
and the lack of water that has a way of life in its own source. It's amazing to me, the wonderment that he brings to us readers in his own experiences as he explores the land, the environment of his stories that captivate us, to make us feel the landscape as he may have walked upon it.
L'Amour is in his element when he talks of the desert, it must have been his favorite place, and his invisible footsteps are most likely everywhere there is a foothold...
To hear him talk about the Government Road to Rock Springs, towards Fort Mohave and Cedar canyon. Providence Mountain looms, as Wild Horse Canyon folds against rock formations made by wind, water, time and glaciers...
I walked in the desert in Moab, Utah, the far-reaching plains in front of my eyes, greasewood bush's and Joshua trees and a occasionally high up in the mountain desert, a Bristlecone pine, its twisting, gnarled form looking almost human in its hideous form, thriving only in the highest elevations and quite possibly walked on the very ground Louis walked as he memorized the mountains, the ground beneath him and the landscape...
There is times when L'Amour wanted to delve into the supernatural, science fiction, horror and throughout his novels, you can catch some of this, but his publishers wouldn't sign off on it, his money was in westerns. Here is a paragraph from this novel, where he lets himself go...

Before them lay a valley, a narrow corridor of green, deep in shadow now, a corridor between two rows of gargoyles, weird monsters shaped by wind, rain, and blown sand, carved from the native rock into these fantastic creatures of stone (edited for shortness of time)
He felt drawn, impelled to go on into that darkening corridor.
But the land spoke to him, whispering a song to his ears, when it was silent, the wind, softly, plaintively, he knew then what was the song Ulysses heard when bound to the mast as he sailed past the siren islands. Louis L'Amour
I could go on, but then I'd play spoiler. Read the book.

#1, RE: Callaghen
Posted by blamour on 09-25-23 at 07:41 AM
In response to message #0
I may have given the impression that led to the conclusion that "His publishers wouldn't sign off on it" ... if I did the true answer is a bit more complicated.

Bantam wanted Dad to keep writing Westerns. They did make that clear whenever they could. But they did not out-and-out refuse to allow Louis to publish in other genres with other publishers ... they couldn't. Dad was sensitive to being successful in one genre and then failing in another, and failure would have been easy if his works were spread across a book store in several categories with his having no way to leverage his existing fans because they didn't know where to find his other work.

He was intelligent enough to take the advice of his publisher, but then try to turn his section of a bookstore into the "Louis L'Amour" section, rather than the "Western" section. This is all very "inside baseball" for the paperback book business of the 20th century but it wasn't like he wasn't allowed ... he could do what he wanted yet was smart enough to realize that, once established and successful, a move was harder to make. He did get push back from Bantam, but it wasn't something that would have stopped him if he hadn't recognized it's wisdom.

#2, RE: Callaghen
Posted by Sackettter8 on 10-11-23 at 10:49 AM
In response to message #1
Well said, and the reply satisfies my interest
and questionable curiosity..
I have read everything he has ever wrote, except maybe some short stories. Loved his seemingly historical stabs at writing far off places abroad
and the 'The Haunted Mesa', something that has always intrigued me about Native Indian spirits and such. I truly believe he wanted to write more like that, but felt, maybe, he needed more to satisfy his fans than himself, but given the opportunity, he may have delved into it more vigorously..
Thanks for the informative reply.

#3, RE: Callaghen
Posted by blamour on 10-11-23 at 11:23 AM
In response to message #2
Dad started his career writing all sorts of genres. "Literary" Adventure, Crime, Pulp Adventure. He started getting published in 1933 or so and didn't choose to write a Western until 1940. He only wrote two or so prior to 1945. Post war Westerns were big business but he STILL intermixed them with other genres.

It was only with the death of the pulp magazines that he committed full time to Western paperback originals ... and he never expected to get stuck there. He started trying to break out around '58 or so but couldn't see how to do it without restarting his career from zero (like with a new publisher).

By then he was married and not ready to take unneeded risks. It was only in the 1970s that he began to sneak other sorts of material in under the guise of "frontier" fiction and then graduated to full fledged writing in other genres in the 1980s. It is noteworthy that The Walking Drum was originally written in 1960, yet only published in the mid '80s.

#4, RE: Callaghen
Posted by john555 on 12-26-23 at 09:01 AM
In response to message #3
You mentioned "The Haunted Mesa". I think that is the only LL book I was not crazy about. And, you've addressed some of the problems that LL faced with it. But, he hit a couple of homeruns with "The Walking Drum" and "Last of the Breed". I think the bottom line was that he was really a master of the action story. But I think I can say that we, his fans, are truly grateful that he stayed with and wrote so many outstanding novels and short stories about the American West.