Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review of Cowboy Stories, illustrations by Barry Moser

Cowboy Stories
Illustrated by Barry Moser, Introduction by Peter Glassman
Chronicle Books, 2007

Barry Moser is a world reknowned artist who has made a reputation illustrating classic works like Alice in Wonderland, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and countless other works of literature. Cowboy Stories is a publication along the same lines as his Scary Stories, Tales of Edgar Allen Poe and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In addition, as I discovered while checking out his numerous bios on the web, he is currently on the faculty of my alma mater, Smith College. Very cool indeed.

Cowboy Stories is a collection of 14 Western short stories from writers such as Luke Short, Elmore Leonard, and Max Brand, and 7 excerpts from longer classics such as Lonesome Dove, The Virginian, and Shane. Included are stories from more modern writers such as Annie Proulx.

If you are an aficionado of the Western story and are looking for a collection of lesser known stories, there are probably only a few in this collection that will satisfy you. Most of these have been reprinted hundreds of times and the book excerpts are extremely short, so much that they could be considered just passages. So this is not a definitive anthology by any means of the Western story. What it is, however, is a beautiful little book with illustrations that took my breath away. Each story is accompanied by one of Moser's stunning engravings.

So Cowboy Stories isn't a collection of Westerns as much as it is a celebration of the Western, and even more specifically, a celebration of Barry Moser illustrating the Western. And that's not a bad thing for a book. And as the introduction says, "How fitting that Moser's illustrations are painstakingly hand-wrought engravings - the very sort of art form that went from viable craft to lovingly preserved....."

Just like the Western story.

1 comment:

ARCHAVIST said...

That's some wonderful black and white artwork.