November 17, 1989 |
Louis L'Amour, the novelist of the American frontier whose books continue to entertain presidents and construction workers, left a real mess behind when he died last year. His family is the first to admit how bad it was--a "toxic dump" of maybe a couple tons of papers stacked chaotically on nearly every square inch of the floor and desk of the big room where L'Amour turned out novels and stories almost as fast as the U.S. Mint stamps out quarters.
June 23, 1988 |
Driving south across Nevada on Highway 95, through the steely afternoon distances, you get the sense that you are in a country where nobody will cut you any slack at all. You are in a version of the American West where you are on your own; the local motto is take care of your own damned self. That's where I was, just south of Tonopah, maybe 150 miles north of Las Vegas, dialing across the radio, when I heard the news that Louis L'Amour was dead of lung cancer at the age of 80.
June 30, 1991 |
Katharine Ross knows who really won the West: the women. "The men were the dreamers," she was explaining over a lunch of soft-shell crabs at a fashionable Santa Monica restaurant. "The men went West, but it was the women who kept things together, no matter the situation. It was hard. They made an effort to have a house, bring up the children under incredible hardships and were able to draw on reserves of strength which they didn't know they had."
August 3, 1986 |
There's prolific, of course, and then there's prolific , and somewhere on the far side of prolific there's Louis L'Amour with more than 85 novels in print, each one of which has sold more than 1 million copies. But far more than the IBM of the cottage industry known as novel writing, the indefatigable L'Amour's literary output is exceeded only by the vastness of his curiosity and the historic and geographic range of that curiosity.
August 17, 2005 |
In the early days, back when Louis L'Amour had to choose between buying food or books, the 10th-grade dropout and part-time hobo wrote poetry. He didn't sell much. So he tried his hand at adventure stories while moonlighting as a Depression-era boxer, roustabout and merchant marine before he caught on with the low-paying pulp magazines.
December 13, 1987
Concerning the controversy surrounding poetry, I'd like to add a bit of information I received from a county librarian. The county maintains small libraries within many local correctional facilities. A county librarian, who had conducted some research to find out which books the inmates checked out most frequently, told me that, in order of preference, convicts like to read books of poetry, books on calligraphy, and the novels of Louis L'Amour. When I asked how she might account for this, she guessed--and it was only a guess--that perhaps inmates chose books of poetry as their first preference in reading because poems are able to express certain emotions that they themselves feel, and, wishing to express these emotions to a loved one, they might even quote lines during visits or in letters.