If this book were a drink: It would be a bottle of ice cold cherry cola served on a hot summer day. You would only get the cherry cola after working all day in the brutal heat – stacking bales of hay on a working farm in Wyoming. The scenery around you would be incredible, lush rolling valleys of tall grass surrounded by jagged green and brown peaks, all capped by an endless blue sky. By the end of the day you would be sweating through your work jeans and flannels, and then someone would hand you the cherry coke. Ice cold out of the fridge and in a glass bottle. It would drink down like a kiss. Then you would stroll over to the wooden fence, put the empty bottle on it and back away twenty paces. Then you would tie on your leather holster and get your grandfather’s old revolver and stare at that bottle. Then- quick as anything- you’d whip the gun out and take your shot, and the glass bottle would explode like a brittle star as the bullet stikes.
If this book were an animal: It would be the phantasm: a ghostly black horse riding, riding out into the endless West. It can’t stop.
Synopsis and what’s interesting to me : Shane is epitome of the classic Western, an almost nameless stranger (“Call me Shane.”) a gunman clad in black rides into town and helps a hardworking farmer and his family battle a crooked cattle baron. It’s also a children’s book , and told from the perspective of the farmer’s son, Bob Starret. The power of the novel (and I use the word novel loosely here- the books is only about 160 pages) lays in the contradictions and paradoxes embodied in Shane. He is a natural killer who hates to kill. He is a loner who wishes he had a family. Finally- and perhaps most ironically- in protecting the law-abiding and good people of the frontier, Shane (and this is what makes it a sentimental post-western) is laying the groundwork for his own antiquation, the people who he protects will build a world that doesn’t need free-ranging gunslingers.