THE AMERICAN WEST (mostly): Fact and Fiction (mostly fiction)

"NOBODY GETS TO BE A COWBOY FOREVER." -- Chet Rollins (Jack Palance) in MONTE WALSH (NG, 1970)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014


When anybody asks me what Dallas was like during the time of the Kennedy assassination, I always refer them to one book: Edwin 'Bud' Shrakes's Strange Peaches." -- Don Graham, Texas Monthly

If the above is true then Dallas was a very wild, weird, wicked place populated by some very wild, weird, wicked individuals. I wouldn't know, but Graham should, so I will have to take his word for it.

Published in 1972, Strange Peaches was not a commercial success. Because of its unflattering portrayal of Dallas at the time of the Kennedy assassination, it received practically no local coverage or any elsewhere in the state. The publisher didn't like it and gave it scant promotion. In fact, the book's editor didn't like it either. However, the critics did.

Here is what some of them wrote:

"Strange Peaches is not only one of the best-written American novels since World War II, it entertains...a great book, not just for critics but for readers." -- United Press International

"A fine, bitter sometimes savage but always controlled novel." -- Kansas City Star

"A big novel, two parts anger to one part and surefire. And Edwin Shrake's narrative has been amply dosed with Dexedrine. There's not an ounce of fat on it." -- New York Times Book Review

I really like the novel and its take on the city and the conditions surrounding the death of a president, but I also must admit that I grew weary of too many descriptions of pill popping, pot smoking, boozing wild parties. Come to think of it, there didn't have to be a party for those activities to take place. They seemed to be a daily occurrence. Okay, maybe that was the way it was, but I still got tired reading about it. But it would certainly explain a lot of wild, weird, wickedness.

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