Paperback - 2006
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Oakley Hall's legendary Warlock revisits and reworks the traditional conventions of the Western to present a raw, funny, hypnotic, ultimately devastating picture of American unreality. First published in the 1950s, at the height of the McCarthy era, Warlock is not only one of the most original and entertaining of modern American novels but a lasting contribution to American fiction.

"Tombstone, Arizona, during the 1880's is, in ways, our national Camelot: a never-never land where American virtues are embodied in the Earps, and the opposite evils in the Clanton gang; where the confrontation at the OK Corral takes on some of the dry purity of the Arthurian joust. Oakley Hall, in his very fine novel Warlock has restored to the myth of Tombstone its full, mortal, blooded humanity. Wyatt Earp is transmogrified into a gunfighter named Blaisdell who . . . is summoned to the embattled town of Warlock by a committee of nervous citizens expressly to be a hero, but finds that he cannot, at last, live up to his image; that there is a flaw not only in him, but also, we feel, in the entire set of assumptions that have allowed the image to exist. . . . Before the agonized epic of Warlock is over with--the rebellion of the proto-Wobblies working in the mines, the struggling for political control of the area, the gunfighting, mob violence, the personal crises of those in power--the collective awareness that is Warlock must face its own inescapable Horror: that what is called society, with its law and order, is as frail, as precarious, as flesh and can be snuffed out and assimilated back into the desert as easily as a corpse can. It is the deep sensitivity to abysses that makes Warlock one of our best American novels. For we are a nation that can, many of us, toss with all aplomb our candy wrapper into the Grand Canyon itself, snap a color shot and drive away; and we need voices like Oakley Hall's to remind us how far that piece of paper, still fluttering brightly behind us, has to fall." --Thomas Pynchon
Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, [2006]
ISBN: 9781590171615
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: x, 471 p. ; 21 cm.


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Mar 23, 2016

"Is not the history of the world no more than a record of violence and death cut in stone? It is a terrible, lonely, loveless thing to know it. . ."
The western is a quintessential American genre and while we have plenty of classic films, we have very few classic novels. Perhaps because it seems a little pulpy, perhaps because the western runs on a very small set of conventions. Originally published in 1958, Oakley Hall's "Warlock" has a claim on one of the few literary western novels with no less than Thomas Pynchon and Robert Stone, who contributes the introduction to this edition, praising it. Set in the small Southwestern town of Warlock, Hall hits on classic themes and situations, but also adds a political angle (striking miners) and a dark, almost existential tone that contrasts with the romanticism of many westerns. It runs long and can be a little plodding, but it's a rare serious and ambitious western and so is worth seeking out. Made into a film with Henry Fonda. Also see "True Grit," "Butcher's Crossing," "Little Big Man," and "Blood Meridian."


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