The Shootist is a finely crafted book b Glendon Swarthout. A man whose entire life has been a series of battles, most of them with a gun, faces the one enemy that doesn't care about your personal reputation: death is in front of you and no one defeats it. John Books knows he's going to die painfully and wants to somehow make a dignified exit. He does. The movie starred John Wayne with a part given to Ron Howard (Opie!). Gillam Rogers is s worthless piece of crap and has nothing to say for himself. When the movie came out they movie actually made him turn human at the end of the story. Hollywood scripts our lives too often.
Loved this book, primarily for the writing. Characters a bit stereotyped, but it wouldn't be a western otherwise. Language is vivid and meaty and unexpected. Wonderful windows into the mind of J. B. Books who, despite being the archetype is well layered and fully explored. Slim volume, thoroughly enjoyable read if you can handle pathos when mixed with wry observation and lots of creativity.
If you enjoy this kind of writing you could also try William Golding's trilogy that begins with Rites of Passage.
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