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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Who's Who In The Western Fiction of Zane Grey

Every four months or so, I take a hankering to check out some books on writing. Maybe there is some particular technique I need help on. Or, like today, somehow I feel like there is some little nugget of wisdom out there just waiting for me to find it in the books of writers who have been at it a while. Plus I just needed a shot in the arm to keep me going--to keep toiling away on my books.

I did come home with a stack of books on writing. I'm looking forward to skimming them for those wisdom nuggets. But I wanted to write about another discovery I made today.

As has been mentioned here many times, Zane Grey is my favorite author, his novel Forlorn River being my favorite book of all time--the ultimate piece of buddy fiction, (some might disagree because there is also a strong romance thread throughout.)

Zane Grey was also quite a prolific author--I do not know exact numbers but he probably authored somewhere along the lines of 70 novels, plus his non-fiction work.

While browsing the library stacks today, I came across a number of Zane Grey related books. One of which just knocked my socks off. The title is Who's Who In The Western Fiction of Zane Grey by John Donahue.

Here's the Amazon link:

In essence, this book is a character dictionary of the many characters that have populated Zane Grey's novels. For example, you can look up the two main characters of Forlorn River, Ben Ide and Nevada, and find a one page summary of who they are and what their story was. How cool is that?

I mean think of it---Zane Grey was so prolific, sold so many millions of books, his writing has withstood the test of many decades (despite the claims of the modern ADHD society)--so popular that his works have been honored with a dictionary of his characters!

Can any writer honestly say that they wouldn't love to be so well known, so prolific, and so enduring that their body of work garnered an entire character compendium? We writers espouse a lot of grand reasons why we write--to get society to ponder some issue, to entertain, etc etc. We don't like to admit we have ego. But it's there.

And I think having the blood, sweat and tears of your years and years of writing and toil honored with a character compendium is about the coolest thing ever. Zane Grey died in 1939, some 69 years prior to this book's publication. But I hope he would be pleased. Though if he were alive, I wonder if he would think something along the lines of "That's nice but don't bother me. I have more books to write." Who knows?

I have no way of knowing if I will publish 1 book much less 70. But the one thing I do know is that no matter what stories I write or where they end up--whether on a bookstore shelf or just in the hands of a friend, I pray that I will create memorable characters too.

And my trip to the library today achieved its purpose. I came home with a nugget of wisdom and a shot of hope. When you're writing touches the hearts of people, it will be honored, whether in present time or time to come.

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