Sunday, June 14, 2015

SALMAN RUSHDIE AND THE HUNTED COWBOY: Why is it important to run in our time?


If you could read Salman Rushdie’s latest book Joseph Anton stripped off the subtitle autobiography, you may very likely find the story of a hunted man. Certainly, something draws us towards the plight of the hunted. Perhaps, every one of us might have been in situations that are little different, at some point in time. Or we fear, sometimes, we might be forced to live in the shoes of those who live in constant fear from the hunters. I came across Louis L’Amour through a deliberate accident. I like to think of that event as a pleasant treasure that the Book Universe had in store for me. I had never heard of him before. Never had I had the chance to read a western thriller novel. Of course, I knew about Zane Grey and others and knew what the genre has in store for the readers. Call it prejudice or awareness, if you will. That does not change the reality, tough. Anyway, this coincidence altered by the unexpected turn of events. The first book I read of L’Amour was about a hunted man who denies himself the plight of being hunted and becomes the hunter himself.

Image Courtesy: Google
William Tell Sackett is scouting for a trail to reach the Mogollon Rim. His aim is to establish a ranch and raise a family there. He dreams of peaceful times and happiness. In this dream, he finds joy and contentment. He is not alone in this journey. His beautiful wife Ange accompanies Tell Sackett. In this journey that curiously symbolizes man’s journey into his promised land, humanity’s journey toward the paradise they had lost, Tell Sackett faces a challenge no man can easily come out from. The challenge is called death.  

Toward the end of the summer of 2015, I was searching through Amazon’s online shopping site to see if any discount sales existed during this period. That was when I bumped upon Louis L’Amour’s book The Sackett Brand. The first reason I stopped on the book was the price. It cost only Rs 165. Then it was the cover. The cover of The Sackett Brand showed three cowboys observing the onlooker from a bar’s counter. No other cover image could have captured the spirit of the book so efficiently. And I loved them cowboys for their attitude—men who lived their lives carrying less for professional growth perhaps, and more for freedom and dignity. Thus, The Sackett Brand fell into my summer reading list.

The Sackett Brand is a serious book. It’s witty while being serious. Short and witty sentences make The Sackett Brand a stylish western thriller.

My short research revealed that L’Amour’s storytelling is so unique that he was able to command the mind and body of the reader through the pages of his books. Readers still feel that magic after twenty-seven years of his death. His narrative skills arrest the reader and takes him away from his daily reality. The reader is taken away into a world of adventure, love, motivation, action, and revenge. I found myself speaking, living and fighting for survival along with the protagonist in a wild west territory while I was immersed in the reading of the book.

Tell Sackett had two things to do to survive; one— to find who his enemies are, two— to hunt them. But he was a lone man. How could fight against forty tough gunslingers running across the country in search of him?
Image Courtesy: Louis-LAmour

Louis L’Amour wrote 89 novels, 14 short-story collections, and two full-length works of nonfiction in his lifetime. He was born in 22 March 1908. He passed from this dimension into the other on 10 June 1988. This gives us, his fans to celebrate his 27th death anniversary this year. Although he primarily wrote western novels, also known as frontier stories, his books such as The Haunted Mesa is classified as science fiction. Many of his books became movies in Hollywood.

His full name is Louis Dearborn LaMoore. He was a boxer and had legendary number of victories in the ring. Perhaps, this real-time experience is the true inspiration behind many of the action scenes in the book. “The Sacketts” is a series that features adventures and exploits of the members of a large family called The Sacketts.

Towards the end of The Sackett brand, Tell Sackett deeply desires that he had company. Now he was a lonely man fighting forty others. It was natural that the man wished for someone to stand by him, to watch his back, although Tell Sackett alone was enough to handle the forty rowdies. Gradually, the news of a hunted man near the Mogollan Rim catches wind. The lonely man was a Sackett. Many others find it a bit uncomfortable, for it is their family name. What had happened to the man that carries their family name?

In a matter of days, the Sacketts all round up from every part of the southwest region.

Now they hunt.   
    
Spoiler Alert: Louis L’Amour owns a biography that his books might envy. You can read it here: Louis L’Amour Website       

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