I like Westerns that are really just updated stories of knights or samurais. A lot of the old Spaghetti Westerns were those kinds of stories. Clint Eastwood’s man with no name in A Fist Full of Dollars was such a hero. He rides into town in the first act to see injustice, and by the end, he has vanquished the evil. I’m not giving anything away here. Everyone knows it’s going to happen. So many of those cowboys riding about in fiction are really just knights, and I love them all.
But Jim Blessing of the new novel Blessings, Bullets, and Bad Bad Men is not one of those characters, at least not at the beginning of the novel.
That’s not to say that I don’t love him, he just comes from a different cowboy paradigm, one that’s talked about a little less than the knight, but is just as fun. Think of Silverado with its questions of good and evil, race and racism, bullies and heroes. So many of the characters in that movie are heroic from the beginning, but Kevin Costner’s Jake isn’t one of those guys.
He’s no coward, but he isn’t the hero type either. He’s just a guy having fun, and we love to watch him. There’s something so compelling and interesting about a cowboy who is still really a kid just enjoying the freedom of the range and living by his wits. Every moment is chaos and we get the vicarious thrill of youth.
Jim Blessing is a character like this. He’s bold and brash, and it is such a pleasure to be in his world.
I truly loved being in his world. I sat down and lost myself for a couple of hours and only just a little while ago came up for breath.
I recommend this fun western from an independent publisher to anyone who loved Cat Ballou or The Sons of Katie Elder.