The Destructive Power of the Western Myth

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Bruce Holbert in The Inlander:

“’I write a lot about disorder,’ says Holbert. ‘I don’t know if I believe there is much order. I mean, trying to get some together is necessary and good, but I feel a little bit about order like I feel about stories. Sometimes the effort for order can destroy what it’s trying to build.’

Like ‘Bliss,’ there are strains of autobiography in Lonesome Animals. Strawl owes a loose debt to Holbert’s great grandfather, surnamed Strahl, who shot Holbert’s grandfather dead in a hazy dispute over land.

Autobiography also feeds into Strawl’s character in the way a past misdeed looms over his life — a trait that might be considered the hallmark of the contemporary Western.

This soul-deep stain was initially meant to parallel chapters in the novel that were ultimately cut and published separately in the New Orleans Review. Those pages recounted damage the Western myth has wrought on Holbert’s own life, when, in an episode of recklessness at the age of 22, he accidentally shot his best friend to death at the Omak stampede.”

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