‘ll always remember a class I took in junior high, one for reading. The idea was that you’d read a book and talk to the teacher about it. One time, I read a western. I’ll always remember the teacher frowning and saying, “I thought you read at a higher level than that.”
Westerns are good fun. As mentioned elsewhere in my blogs, westerns define our American values. I’ve always loved them.
So, The U.P. Trail deals with an engineer (civil, not train) who is working to drive the Union Pacific rails west on the transcontinental. Along the way, he and his partner find the ruins of a wagon train wiped out by Indians and a poor young girl who survived the attack. Of course, the engineer and the girl fall in love, they are separated, and she is kidnapped (she is about the most kidnapped-prone woman west of the Mississippi, but it works and it’s fine).
I’ve never read Zane Grey and found his writing interesting. The first scene is magnificent, with a description of the vastness of the west, the peaks, the valleys, and just along a ridge, a small pony standing all by itself. Two paragraphs after this odd description of a semi-wild horse, we realize that, yes, there is the nearby brush, an Indian is scoping out the wagon train that’s going to be attacked (see above). And so this tale begins, in Technicolor and 3D. Wow.
One thing; Grey was a very flowery writer. I was actually surprise at how long many of his descriptive passages ran, and how long lovers could keep up their discourses. But later I went online and found out that this story originally came out in 1918. What’s amazing there is that his publish date was actually closer in time to the actual Transcon than it was to my reading it. That really surprised me when I realized it.
And if you think this is just a 1918 novel of your grandfather’s, where the hero is so heroic that he puts down his gun to fight the villain fist-to-fist, fairly, think again. When the hero finally does catch the baddie (after an amazing reduction amongst the supporting roles), what he does to the villain is enough to make you flinch. No, it wasn’t boxing. It was actually equal to a King story. And, oh, so satisfying. The bad guy had it coming.
So this comes from Project Gutenberg, as so many of my older reads do. You can get it HERE.
If you like westerns and you’re a reader not in a rush, you’ll probably like this. G’yap!