Friday, January 7, 2011

FFB: Down the Long Hills by Louis L'amour

By the time I has graduated from High School in 1991-I think I had read the majority of the books that L’amour had published at that point. Down the Long Hills first published in 1968 wasn’t the first of his books that I read, but it is one that sticks out, mainly because I fondly recall the the TV Movie made from it in 1986.

The plot…. (From

“After the massacre Hardy and Betty Sue were left with only a horse and a knife with which to face the long battle against the wilderness. A seven-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, stranded on the limitless prairie. They were up against starvation, marauding Indians, savage outlaws, and wild animals. They were mighty stubborn, but the odds were against them--and their luck was about to run out.”

What we have is a classic tale of adventure and courage. It’s as western as you can get, a kid having to make their own way, having to survive without the benefit of civilization and adults. L'amour as always (ok almost always) is very readable and a good entry point for younger readers into the world of pulp fiction.

In thinking about the book again, I am wondering if there are teens out there that are still reading L’amour’s books, or westerns in general. When I was growing up the adults in my life, mostly teachers and school administrator types, seemingly had written the western off as a chauvinist, imperialist form that degraded native cultures, minorities, and women while glorifying violence and colonialism. To them John Wayne was just a right wing nut who taught boys all the wrong ways to be a man, and anything that smacked of a Western was trash… I wonder how many of those types of teachers are still out there discouraging young readers?

As I said I read many of L’amour’s books, but only a handful have stayed with me all these years and Down the Long Hills is one of them.


Evan Lewis said...

Can't go wrong with old Louie.

D.M. McGowan said...

L'Amour wrote entertainment and almost always included a little philosophy and some history. As for the complaints of the "literary" set ... L'Amour wrote about an era that was chauvenistic, right wing, and racist and to be acurate should be all those things.
Besides, we are STILL all of those things, we're just not as bad as we used to be.
As for "literary purity", if it isn't entertaining people are going to quit reading then it won't matter how literary it is.
If I find on re-reading one of my own stories that it isn't,first and foremost, entertaining I junk it until I can make it entertaining at a later date.