New York: Forge, 2019
711 pp. $9.99 (paperback)
Texas novelist Elmer Kelton’s West is a vivid, authentic world—one in which farmers struggle to keep their land, ranchers work backbreaking hours to support their families, cowboys explore the depths of the wilderness, and people make difficult but admirable choices in the face of adversity. To Kelton, who grew up on a ranch in Andrews County and was an associate editor of Livestock Weekly from 1968 to 1990, this life was all too familiar. In his spare time, he wrote novels based on his experiences, and by the time of his death in 2009, he had completed sixty-two books and was named the “greatest Western author of all time” by the Western Writers of America.1
Hot Iron, Kelton’s first novel (published in 1956), is an adventure story reminiscent of popular Westerns. The Time It Never Rained is a more serious Western and Kelton’s favorite, earning him a Spur Award for Best Western Novel in 1973.2 Together, these stories—reissued in 2019 in a single volume—demonstrate Kelton’s magnificent prose and are remarkable contributions to American literature.
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1. Macy Halford, “Elmer Kelton,” New Yorker, August 23, 2009, https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/elmer-kelton; R. G. Robertson, “The Greatest Western Author of All Time,” True West Magazine, October 1, 2002, https://truewestmagazine.com/the-greatest-western-author-of-all-time/.