One of my weaknesses as a student of the classics is my short attention span. I long for the ability to immerse myself deeply into difficult, but relevant texts. I want to be the type of student that enjoys spending hours at a time reading, studying, thinking, making connections, and writing my discoveries.
I’m not there yet.
I have been alternating my reading between a serious or more difficult read with something I read for entertainment. The last few days I have alternated between John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism and Louis L’Amour’s Hondo. I have found that I am able to stay engaged for a longer amount of time.
Tonight, I finished Hondo. I loved it. Maybe it’s the Arizona boy in me, but I’ve always liked Westerns. Last year I read Louis L’Amour’s autobiographical Education of a Wandering Man. It was excellent. I think it created a positive bias toward L’Amour. Not that the story doesn’t have its own merit.
The setting of the book is rich in accurate detail. Having grown up in the desert, I developed a love for her harsh beauty and hidden secrets. L’Amour captures these aspects perfectly. He also delves into the universal themes of life such as love, ethics, the nature of man, etc.
What I love about L’Amour’s style is how he can hit the core of these themes in relatively few words. There is intelligence in his writing that runs under the surface, always present, but there is also a lot of heart. You feel what his characters experience. You connect with that human struggle. You feel what it means to live well, learn from life, and learn from mistakes – developing the character to make a stand for what is right.
Hondo is a true cowboy: rough around the edges, in tune with the harsh environment, content with hard work, yet compassionate and fair. He prefers to be on friendly terms with both the Apache Indians and the white men in the region, but if anyone crosses him, he meets that threat with ferocity and proficiency as a warrior. He is a man’s man and proves it in the end by dedicating his manliness to a family.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys westerns.