Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In Which I'm interviewed about Riders of the Purple Sage

To catch up, this interview is part of Me? Read That?! An ongoing mother-daughter challenge where we dare each other to read books. (I pick what she reads; she picks what I read.) This interview is part of the second round. Mom is asking the questions. I am answering them.

What was your initial reaction to the choice of a Zane Grey western?

No, not that!

Of the literary elements that make up a novel (style, setting, plot, characterization, etc.) which was the strongest and weakest in this work?

Hard question. I know the weakest is probably his style. Because I think style would encompass the descriptions and the dialogue. Not all of the dialogue was that bad. But some of it was groan-worthy. His strength would probably be plot and pacing. While I didn't have the easiest time with this one, the last hundred or a hundred and fifty pages really worked well.

Did this novel encourage any interest in further reading of this historical period or type of work?

I *think* mom is asking if I'm still allergic to westerns. And the answer is yes, I'm still allergic. I'm just not interested in reading "westerns" because I find the content--whether shooting Mormons or Indians or outlaws, etc.--to be offensive. I just don't like bang, bang shoot'em up stories. Guns and horses are not my thing.

Can you briefly tell about the villain and the hero in this story?

Well, there are several villains. And most of these villains are Mormon men. The crimes of these men include things like beating up gentiles, trying to run gentiles out of Utah, taking the property and land of gentiles and gentile sympathizers, working (conspiring) with horse and cattle thieves, kidnapping a woman and child. One of the villains, I think, is just a rustler or thief. (I can't remember if he steals horses and cattle or just one or the other. As if it matters.) The heroes are both gentiles. Men who for various reasons have come to suspect and hate Mormons.

One of the heroes, Lassiter, falls in love with a Mormon woman, Jane, and struggles with that. She wants him to put away his guns. To live peaceably and stop the violence. She begs him time and time and time again not to be so quick to shoot Mormons. Even as these men are hurting her (taking her cattle, taking her horses, taking all her riders and workers, making threats against her, etc.) She doesn't want any blood to be shed on her account. She doesn't want to be the reason someone loses their life. He's just quick to tell her that she's blind and stupid when it comes to faith. And that some people need to get what's coming to them. That some people shouldn't be forgiven.

What was the most surprising thing you discovered while reading this novel?

I was expecting to absolutely hate it from cover to cover. And yet, I found myself caring about some of these characters. Caring doesn't mean loving. It doesn't even mean liking. (Because some of these characters just did things that I couldn't reconcile myself too.) It's just that I wanted to know how it all turned out. I wanted to know what happened next.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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