Friday, June 29, 2012

Lin McLean

Lin McLean. Owen Wister. 1898/1998. Forge. 230 pages.

In the old days, the happy days, when Wyoming was a Territory with a future instead of a State with a past, and the unfenced cattle grazed upon her ranges by prosperous thousands, young Lin McLean awaked early one morning in cow camp, and lay staring out of his blankets upon the world. 

It helped me tremendously to know that this was Owen Wister's first novel. (I am even tempted to say "novel" just because this book feels more like a short story collection than a cohesive novel.) Unfortunately, I didn't learn that this was his first novel until after I read it and had been disappointed. Last year, I read and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Owen Wister's novel The Virginian. It was a complete surprise to me because I am allergic to westerns. I wanted to find another Wister novel that compared to The Virginian, and I didn't find it in Lin McLean. (Though the Virginian makes a couple of appearances in the stories within Lin McLean.) But is that fair to expect Lin McLean to be as good, as great as The Virginian? Probably not.

The stories found in Lin McLean are
  • How Lin McLean Went East
  • The Winning of the Biscuit-Shooter
  • Lin McLean's Honey-Moon
  • A Journey In Search of Christmas
  • Separ's Vigilante
  • Destiny at Drybone
  • In the After-Days (a poem, not a story)
If I had to sum up the book, sum up the stories, I would say Lin McLean was about a cowboy who was good at losing his money gambling, a man easily distracted by women and cards and booze, a man who despite his shortcomings found the love of a young boy and a good woman.

My favorite stories were, without a doubt, "Lin McLean's Honey-Moon," "Separ's Vigilante," and "Destiny at Drybone."

Read Lin McLean
  • If you like westerns
  • If you're looking to catch early glimpses of the man who would become THE VIRGINIAN
  • If you like western short stories
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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