Western stories are horror stories. Desolation. Solitude. The Unknown. Monsters. That’s what they’re always about.
I think that’s why I like them so much – they strip civilization down to a skeleton and then they ask the most basic questions. What kind of person are you, really? What would you do to live? Would you rather survive, or keep your character intact? Can you do both?
This collection of Elmore Leonard’s Western stories was recently on sale as an audiobook, and most of the stories are read by David Strathairn (Godzilla: King of the Monsters), William Atherton (Bio-Dome), and Henry Rollins (The Drew Carey Show). Of course, I smashed that buy button.
I don’t know whether I’d prefer this collection in audio or print form. David Strathairn, Henry Rollins, and William Atherton reading the stories do raise the narration to something like a radio drama, which is a plus. Leonard’s one-liners and pithy observations sound great when read by older actors. But the audiobook doesn’t include all of the stories in the collection. And sometimes I found myself trying to figure out if a character from one story popped up in another one – especially because I know Leonard does that in other work. It would’ve been easier to track things like that in print. Still, listening to my man Henry Rollins read 3:10 to Yuma while I’m driving through Texas – Vince McMahon gif.
So I’ll recommend both. Listen to the stories and track down the collection in print (which has a great cover). There are worse things to spend your money on.