Friday, December 25, 2015

Forgotten Books: Christmas Out West - Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg, eds.

This volume of new and reprint Western Christmas stories was published in hardback by Doubleday in 1990 and in paperback by Bantam in 1991, which is the edition I read back then. Here are the contents:

"Three Yuletide Poems", S. Omar Barker
"How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar", Bret Harte
"A Journey in Search of Christmas", Owen Wister (an excerpt from the novel LIN McLEAN)
"The Bullpuncher", James Stevens
"Standing Alone in the Darkness", Arthur Winfield Knight
"Winter Harvest", John Prescott
"Mainwaring's Gift", Ed Gorman
"Seven-Up's Christmas", Charles Alden Seltzer
"Christmas Eve in San Augustine", Edward D. Hoch
"No Room at the Inn", Bill Pronzini
"Gunman's Christmas", Caddo Cameron
"The Death of Dutch Creel", Loren D. Estleman
"Stubby Pringle's Christmas", Jack Schaefer

There's not a bad story in the bunch. One of Barker's poems is "A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer", which I posted on this blog all the way back in 2004. It's one of the most popular posts I've ever done and still gets regular hits.

For this post I found another copy and reread the two pulp stories, Seltzer's "Seven-Up's Christmas", which first appeared in the December 1949 issue of GIANT WESTERN, and Cameron's "Gunman's Christmas" from the December 25, 1946 issue of SHORT STORIES. Seltzer's story is a suspenseful yarn about two cowboys snowbound in a line shack at Christmas time, both of them with secrets in their past. Cameron's story is about an outlaw who just wants to spend Christmas alone at his hideout in Indian Territory, but dangerous strangers keep showing up. Both of these are excellent Christmas tales. In fact, this whole anthology is very good, and although it's too late for this year, if you want to read some fine Christmas Westerns next year, I highly recommend it.

Since this is the last Forgotten Books post of the year, I also wanted to mention that going into this year one of my goals was not to use any reruns in this series. I managed to do that, although I've had to fudge a few times by reading novellas and writing about them. But I've had new content every Friday all year. I may not be able to maintain it, but I'm glad I did it for a year, anyway. I didn't do anywhere near that well with the Tuesday's Overlooked Movies/TV/etc. posts. But hey, it's all for fun anyway, and I hope you've all had a good time.


Barry Traylor said...

Always look for to reading these James and A very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Stephen Mertz said...

Thank you for a year's worth of great blog posts. A daily go-to!

Todd Mason said...

Indeed, thanks for all the good reading...

Paul R. McNamee said...

Pronzini and Greenberg put together interesting anthologies.