So I read this book because of a Simpsons joke. Basically, this one:
“Welly-welly-welly. Mr. Clean wants to hang with Dirty Dingus McGee”
And it turns it out it’s a reference to a Frank Sinatra movie from the 1970s, which is based on a book from the 1960s, which is written by a post-modern(ish) writer I have heard of, which turns out the library had a copy of. So here I am.
This novel is written as a kind of love ballad to Westerns. The kind of Westerns you seen in movies, but also used to get written. It’s NOT about the real west….it’s not Lonesome Dove or Blood Meridian or even “The Blue Hotel.” This is kind of a satire of Westerns as a whole. It’s weird, it’s goofy, it’s not exactly raunchy, but it is supposed to be all kinds of baudy, I guess?
It’s about 1/3 insult. (Kind of hence the name), but it’s also written as a strange ode to bandits and thieves who wanted their story told, as well as a love ballad to the kinds of stories that are told.
I wanted to like it more because it had a lot of the elements that I do like in a novel. It’s pretty funny, it’s weird, and it’s offbeat. But at the same time, it feels a little too on the nose for all of these things. It has that weird kind of parody downfall of parodying, without actually a great example of the thing you’re parodying.
It’s shares shelfspace with Thomas McGuane and Charles Portis and Richard Brautigan, but throughout, while thinking of these guys, I kept thinking how much better at it they were.
I would save some time and maybe just go read True Grit if you haven’t.
Here’s how it read though:
“Turkey Doolan’s crotch itched. His scalp was gamy. Poised in the saddle, with one freckled hand inside his jeans and several stumpy fingers of the other beneath his sombrero, he relieved himself simultaneously and with vehemence.
But Turkey’s complaint was also mental. He knew this a true fact as he shifted his buttocks athwart the hot leather, waiting while his companion emerged from a sheltered turning on the trail behind him. “Because I done rode with him for almost two weeks now,” he reasoned, “and still there ain’t nothing happened. Even accompanied with Mister Dingus Billy Magee hisself, and it ain’t happened yet. “