I’ve had a great appreciation for history over the years, and the more I’ve learned the happier I am to be living in the future. The past is generally a tableau of horrible things happening and becoming slightly less horrible as time goes on. Slavery, for example, morphed into Jim Crow laws, and eventually to something like 1 out of 8 every eight black males being in prison or on probation, so that’s progress…of a sort. I suppose. Or consider women throughout history! We’ve gone from the likes of Elanor of Aquitaine and Elanor Roosevelt, as well as other women not named Elanor, to women like Sarah Palin. So…yeah…the inexorable march of progress…I guess.
Anyhow, the Old West was a particularly awful time and place, and I’ve never understood why people romanticize it as much as they do. Thankfully this book, by Seth McFarlane, best known for Seth McFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy”, is a lovely panacea to that belief.
The story centers on Albert, technically a sheep farmer (for some rather odd sheep, it must be said), but mostly a professional coward. Think of Rincewind but in the Old West. We follow him on his adventures as he experiences life, love and getting shot in the ankle. Along for the ride are characters like Edward, the humble cobbler, and his girlfriend, a rather enthusiastic prostitute whose command of sex-talk is somewhat lacking.
The book is VERY MUCH along the lines of what you’d expect from McFarlane. Swearing? Oh, yes. Weird situations. Oh, yes. Anachronisms aplenty? Oh, yes. Now if you like all those things you’ll be happy, if not, you probably won’t bother buying this book, or even reading this review, so there’s that.
I’m docking a star because while McFarlane is a great TV writer, he still needs to learn a bit about writing novels. It really seems like a screenplay where he basically cut and paste the lines into his word processor and the added “he said” when needed. Which I think is basically the case. But I did enjoy it overall, and it does make me look forward to the movie.
Also, wow, the Old West sucked.