Jeff Arnold’s West

The blog of a Western fan, for other Western fans

Review of Stay and Die

 

Blowing my own trumpet again

 

I crave your indulgence dear e-reader, for another mention of my recent novel Stay and Die. But I can’t resist.

 

 

You probably know of Richard W Etulain, formerly of the University of New Mexico, author of many excellent books, including The American West: A Twentieth-Century History, Western Lives: A Biographical History of the American West, The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane and one we have reviewed on this blog, Telling Western Stories: From Buffalo Bill to Larry McMurtry. Professor Etulain has been kind enough to leave a comment on Jeff Arnold’s West in the past.

 

 

I rather cheekily sent him a copy of my book, hoping that he might read and comment on it, and to my delight he wrote the (most generous) review below.

 

He also pointed to a couple of historical errors, which I’ll correct if there’s ever a second edition, such as that I refer in the book to Paulita Maxwell as “the beautiful daughter of Deluvina Maxwell,” but Deluvina was the Native American servant of the Maxwells.  Luz Maxwell was the mother of Paulita. I wish I’d send him the manuscript before publication!

 

Paulita

 

Jeff Arnold has produced a jewel of a novel. Deftly marrying historical and imagined characters and events, the author achieves what first-rate historical novels should showcase: an attractive combination of known facts and created figures and scenes.

 

First of all, imagine a spontaneous gathering of notable Old West characters. Arnold’s novel opens with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Mr. Howard (Jesse James), and Billy the Kid—all at one time and in one place: Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the late 1870s.  The author brings together these headliner and other characters meeting–and sometimes conflicting—at a time when a newly arrived railroad is transforming and upsetting Las Vegas, turning it into New Mexico’s largest city, boiling over with shootings and murders, disruptive and violent actions of all kinds.

 

At the center of Arnold’s intriguing novel is Josh Webb, a Kansan young man trying to find himself and a new life path. His never-stop but uncertain journey links together the novel’s shifting settings in Las Vegas, Bill the Kid country, Arizona, and Mexico—as well as other scenes. Webb is portrayed as an unceasing searcher, still unable to completely satisfy himself and others in his several attempts to find meaning. Work, action, sex, and search—all are brought together in Josh’s jumbled journey.

 

In short, readers will be intrigued with Arnold’s inviting Old West story. It overflows with provocative characters, appealing settings, and dozens of dramatic scenes.

 

Gosh, my cheeks are glowing. So that just shows you, reader dear, that if you haven’t read Stay and Die yet, you’re seriously missing out!

 

 

One Response

  1. More than nice. As stated earlier, I have ordered Sta and Die, but no-delivery up here in Canada yet. Soon though.

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