Sunday, November 8, 2009

Long Horn, Big Shaggy

Another day I'm too lazy to post anything new, so another reprint. I did change two words, so there is new content. Heh.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for weird westerns. And one of the newer authors I’m growing to appreciate is the Sage of Nova Scotia, Steve Vernon, whose story was one of the highlights of the excellent collection, A Dark and Deadly Valley. Therefore, when I heard the novella Long Horn, Big Shaggy fit the description of the sub-genre and was about to go out of print, I ordered it immediately.

To say that Long Horn, Big Shaggy is a weird western underestimates what weird means. It is the story of a cowboy, Jonah, who gets ambushed after stealing a horse, shot through the head, and killed. That’s the beginning for him. He is then re-animated by an old prospector, who is himself a re-animated dead man. In fact, almost everyone in the story fits that description. There follows a truly wild tale in which Jonah gets caught in the middle between two rivals, each of whom has killed the other, sometimes more than once.

If there is a flaw to the story, it is that Vernon concentrates too much on the weird and the gore, and not enough on why all this is happening. But Vernon’s sheer exuberance and adept turns of phrase carry you right along. I particularly was fond of the descriptive name of an undead horse, the “carrion stallion.” Recommended.


Craig Clarke said...

I still need to read this; it's been on the shelf since I got it for half-price some time ago.

Got the Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns recently, and this one is not mentioned. Clearly an oversight.

KentAllard said...

I didn't even know the Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns existed until you mentioned it. Now that I know, I have to get a copy.

Craig Clarke said...

I've just flipped through it, but I'm discovering all sorts of new things -- but I'm not all that well versed in the subgenre, either. :)

Rabid Fox said...

Well, I guess I should give myself a swift kick in the ass for never reading Vernon's work before. I've heard the name in passing, but for some reason I've never taken the time to search out one of his books. As a Maritimer, I should be on the look-out for this title, which sounds especially intriguing in premise.

I'm a bit of a homer, what can I say, in so much as I enjoy learning there are writers of dark fiction lurking around my neck of the woods. I just found out about Louise Bohmer, an author/editor from New Brunswick, through a podcast of The Dark Fiction Show. So, there's two names now I'll have to check out soon.

KentAllard said...

I've always been very fond of Nova Scotia, after all, they did name a waterfall after me.*

* I do acknowledge the remote possibility it's named after someone else with the same name as my real one. :-) **

** Yes, just joking.

Paul Green said...

Hi Craig

Yes I did miss this title. As you can appreciate novellas or short stories from a smaller publisher are easy to overlook. I've included many small press and independent publishers and films in my encyclopedia. I have a blog site that acts as a supplement to my book to include titles I may have overlooked and new films, books, comic books etc. published after the completion of my book.

Thanks for buying my book and I hope you enjoyed it. And I hope you bought your copy Kent. :)

Craig Clarke said...


First, my initial comment was meant with tongue firmly in cheek. No encyclopedia of niche interest can expect to be utterly comprehensive (though you've done a bang-up job of trying).

Thanks for pointing us to your blog supplement. A perfect addendum in this age.

Paul Green said...

Thanks Craig. I intend to keep updating my blog on a regular basis.

KentAllard said...

Paul's blog is a fine one, by the way. I look forward to the arrival of my copy of the Encyclopedia.