Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adventures II Foreword by Alec Cizak

The western is one of those things. Like rock and roll. Like theater. Jackasses in coffee houses everywhere are always pronouncing it dead. There’s seductive evidence to suggest that diagnosis correct—Hollywood has a hard time prying its big fat wallet open to finance a western (never mind that the goddamn town was practically built on the genre). The only way television could get a western going in this day and age was by shuffling it off to the ‘naughty’ corner of cable and filling its character’s mouths with non-stop profanity. Stroll into most book stores (the ones that still exist, speaking of a dying species) and you’ll probably find one shelf of westerns with the safe, traditional names on the spines. Here’s the problem, though, here’s why there’s no authoritative signature on that particular death certificate: The western is not dead. People read them, people watch them, and people like Edward A. Grainger (aka David Cranmer) are fueling the genre with fresh stories and characters that satisfy both old and new conventions.

Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles has been out for a short time and garnered enough attention to demonstrate that there is not only sustained interest in the western, but new blood ducking in to take a peek and, if we are to believe the avalanche of praise Grainger’s first collection has received, liking what they see. And why not? Without the self-conscious posturing of postmodernism, Grainger has, in fact, crafted a postmodern west that takes into account the conspicuous absence of non-white, non-protestant members of the American family. Grainger is not one, I suspect, to bellow about “political correctness” and “inclusion” and “diversity” and all the other buzz words that college campuses and public service announcements like to drill into our heads in effort to keep the masses civilized. Like that old adage about faith, them that shout the loudest, we should assume, believe the least. No, Grainger very quietly sits wherever it is he writes and creates stories about the old west that fill in a lot of spaces left by previous generations of writers and filmmakers.

I compared Volume I to John Ford’s The Searchers and I stand by that comparison. Like The Searchers, Grainger’s stories address America’s racial and ethnic realities in a straightforward manner so refreshingly free of self-consciousness that one is able to read the stories purely for entertainment or as the subtle political statements that they are. Grainger has, in short, achieved that great balance between form and function. In my opinion, this should be the goal of any serious artist.

On the surface, these are entertaining tales. Cash Laramie is part Dirty Harry, part Billy Jack. Of course, he walks the Earth a hundred years before those great vigilante characters of the 1970s. He benefits from a more relaxed attitude towards rogue justice. The result is a character who punishes bad guys the way all of us, deep down, would prefer. Thus, men who abuse children are dispatched without all the pesky paperwork and legal acrobats criminals benefit from today. Bigots who hang people simply because they don’t like the color of their skin are brutally tortured and left for dead. In Volume II, Cash continues his brand of “outlaw” justice, repositioning that tricky line between “right” and “wrong.” We are also treated to the story of Cash’s origin. Gideon Miles does not play as significant a role as he did in the first collection of stories, but his appearance here reinforces my belief that Edward Grainger is telling tales of the west in a much more honest manner than any writer or filmmaker has attempted before and he is doing so without begging for an “atta’ boy!” from the coffee house crowd.

There are some who would argue that Cash Laramie’s “outlaw” justice is just that—beyond the borders of the law and therefore suspect. I think they are missing the point. American mythology is twisted in contradictions that brutal lawmen like Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles untangle with gut decisions we all wish we could execute every time we watch in horror as the justice system fails to discipline someone who is obviously guilty. These stories nurture a basic human desire to create a world that makes sense emotionally. In that way, they are a kind of medicine, don’t you think?

Alec Cizak
August, 2011


Thanks, Alec.

Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles Vol. II will be released very soon with seven more stories featuring my 19th century antiheroes. Three tales are brand new, including the novella "Origin of White Deer" where a young Cash leaves his adoptive family to head into Cheyenne and find his roots.


G said...

Pretty cool foreward. Sort of an "in your face so there" so to speak.

Randy Johnson said...

Does a nice job summing up your two characters, David. I like the way you've introduced what we think of as "modern crime" into the old west. A lot of that surely went on back then, but probably wasn't considered marketable by publishers to the public who wanted guns, guns, and more guns.

Look forward to the collection. I've read the old stories, but it will be nice to have them in one spot.

Scott Parker said...

Nice piece, Alex. My favorite line: "In Volume II, Cash continues his brand of “outlaw” justice, repositioning that tricky line between “right” and “wrong.”" I appreciate this aspect of Cash's character in that the line between good and evil, right and wrong, isn't solid nor set at one spot. It's a constantly moving thing that Cash has to find each time he seeks justice. He's such an interesting character that it makes me read each tale with a sense of wonder, asking the question "Which way will he go this time?" Makes for great reading.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great foreward. Looking forward to this!

Paul D. Brazill said...

That's a brilliant intro. Cant's wait.

David Barber said...

A fine forward from a good buy. Really looking forward to the next installment. I'm sure it's going to be as successful, if not better!

Congrats, David.

Nik said...

A forthright foreword that tells it as it is. Which is what Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles are all about: law with an Edge.

Chad said...

A wonderful forward to what will surely be another wonderful collection of stories by David. I'm ecstatic his first collection has been so well received and sold so well. It's refreshing to see good writing rewarded by a large and growing readership--writing that, as Alec pointed out, is both entertaining and meangingful. It's a double bonus that it's happening for David, easily one of the most honorable men I know.

Garnett Elliott said...

Excellent forward to what I'm sure is going to be an excellent collection. The idea of making your own justice (or trying to, anyway) in a lawless world is always appealing.

Ron Scheer said...

Excellent foreword. The western has traditionally taken on villainy as its subject and the extra-legal methods of dealing with it. So the Virginian after 400 pages dispatches Trampas in a gun duel at sunset.

The challenge for the writer is to maneuver the elements of this story so the demise of the villain is deserved and the hero's possession of the moral high ground is not compromised. Grainger's stories navigate that gray area for today's readers in a way that's much overdue.

David Cranmer said...

G, I like that edge that AC delivers. Kind of like a refreshing glass of cold water tossed in my face. :)

I’ll be getting you a copy in the next few days, Randy. There are three new stories and one is of novella length.

Scott, Thank you. And I hope I have a few more surprises left. I’m fairly sure I do.

I always appreciate your support, Charles.

Just another week, Paul.

Thanks, David. A copy will be coming your way, amigo.

Nik, Imagine if Cash wandered into Edge’s line of fire. Intriguing to think.

Those are very kind words, Chad. Very kind and deeply appreciated.

Garn, A feeling that that will remain as long as human beings stroll the earth.

Ron, You have a way with words, sir. I’m glad I have you doing the intro to Hardboiled.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Genuine, sexy and in your face. Absolutely perfect for Cash and Miles, I'd have to say I love this line

"Edward Grainger is telling tales of the west in a much more honest manner than any writer or filmmaker has attempted before and he is doing so without begging for an “atta’ boy!” from the coffee house crowd."

Great job, Alec. Looking forward to the collection, David!

Chris said...

Nice work. Having just finished AC's Manifesto Destination it's good to see him over here as well.

Thomas Pluck said...

If I wasn't going to read this book simply because the first collection made me realize I was a damned fool for overlooking western fiction sight unseen, this foreword would sell me on it.
You put into words what makes a collection of straightforward tales set in a West we can believe truly existed so compelling: We get two deeply human tour guides into American mythology, baring the truth beneath the legends.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I better get crackin' finishing up Volume 1!! :) I love the new cover art! Congrats!

Reb said...

A few years ago I worked in a little neighbourhood pharmacy and we had a gentleman that came in every week and bought every western we could get in. Sadly that usually was only two or three. We would make a point of asking for more westerns every order too.

John Kenyon said...

Really looking forward to this, David. Alec did a great job of positioning the book in the larger scheme of things, and I hope you find the willing and receptive audience you ought to have.

AC said...

Thanks for the kind comments on the intro. Anyone who liked Volume I is going to love Volume II. Each Cash Laramie story just adds dimensions to the character and instills a desire to read more and more.

David Cranmer said...

Jodi, I’ve been fortunate to have some high-quality forwards from Chris F. Holm and now AC.

Chris, Alec is turning into a one man tango.

I’m going to have to ask you for a future foreword, Tom. Gracias.

Alyssa, Seven stories can’t be that hard. Or can they? 

He sounds like my kind of reader. Thanks for sharing, Reb.

Very nice, John. Thank you. I will make sure a copy comes your way.

Thanks again, Alec. I believe the verdict is in and people love your opening.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

It's partly that library holds keep coming up, David. And partly because I'm reading one book for a bookclub, and another for my blog, and get the picture. You are right up on my list!

David Cranmer said...

Just kiddin' with you a bit, amiga. I think it's pretty damn cool you got me to read (and I enjoyed) a romance novel and hopefully I will do the same with westerns for you. Now that's cool.

And that square at the end of my last comment was suppose to be a smiley face. Not sure what happened there.

Dave King said...

This has sure whetted the appetite.

Cindy Rosmus said...

Alec says it like it is. These stories show diversity without being "politically correct" about it. I bet Cash & Gideon would BOTH puke, if they could see how the "pc" hounds have taken the reins. Or maybe just SHOOT them.