Elmer Kelton and West Texas: A Literary Relationship

By Judy Alter | Go to book overview

6 KELTON AS NOVELIST

These, then, are the novels of Elmer Kelton, more than twenty-five of them published, novels firmly tied to the land and the history of Kelton's West Texas, novels that, though well respected in Texas, have not gained the national reputation they deserve.

Clearly, in an age when "everybody suddenly wants to be the Boris Pasternak of the Purple Sage" ( Lyon, p. 156), Kelton cannot be classed with Edward Abbey, Larry McMurtry, and others who have caused critics (and readers!) to apply those contemporary critical terms "minimalist' and "decadent" to today's western. Kelton brings to his work far less pessimism about the nature of man and a more complex moral sense than minimalist writers of any genre—a point that may be defended easily by a consideration of his use of character.

If Kelton stands apart from many contemporary authors writing about American life, neither can he be classed with the acknowledged masters of the

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Elmer Kelton and West Texas: A Literary Relationship
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Home on the Ranch 5
  • 2 - An Apprenticeship in the Pulps 18
  • 3 - The Livestock Journalist 34
  • 4 - The Traditional Novels 41
  • 5 - The Major Novels 63
  • 6 - Kelton as Novelist 96
  • Conclusion 139
  • Bibliography 142
  • Index 154
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