DOC: the gritty odyssey of an Old West icon

Posted: July 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

There is something about Westerns that I have always found fascinating.  There’s a certain aura of myth around the whole Old West period and its figures, people in wide-brimmed hats, with a very clear idea of justice, either revered as heroes or reviled as villains. There’s always this impression that there’s no “middle ground” when it comes to the figures of Old West lore.

The name of John Henry “Doc” Holliday is known to everyone who’s passionate about American history, or so it should be.   His image will forever be etched in my mind as it was penned by the brilliant, vibrant mind of Ms. Mary Doria Russell, author of DOC, a novel I’m proud to have on my shelf.

This book is one of the most impeccably written and researched historical novels I have ever had the chance to read.  It tells its story vividly, with a great deal of passion and wit, and readers feel as though they are eavesdropping on American history.

What I love the most about the book(and its awesome sequel, EPITAPH, which is going to be the subject of another review) is the fact that it doesn’t fall into a very common trap of Western fiction, which is that of putting its heroes on some sort of pedestal, turning them into untouchable monoliths. No. This book tells the very down-to-earth story of a man upon whom history placed a larger-than-life reputation. A man battling very personal demons, consumed with disease. An avid reader and skilled musician. A fierce fighter and inveterate gambler.  A man who’s known for living in the proverbial shadow of an Old West legend, in the person of Wyatt Earp(their relationship is the backb0ne of this thoroughly solid novel), gets a voice of his own. A voice that rings with the authentic grit of Uncle Sam of old.  I love how the author made me, as a reader, understand that sometimes, there is both less and more about the iconic figures of history than we think there is. It is a valuable lesson that every writer of historical fiction should be able to put across very clearly.  Though receiving a copy for review purposes, it is my pleasure and honor to state that the views herein are entirely my own, as is the ten-outta-five rating for this unique Western odyssey. Thank you, Ms. Russell. A darned fine yarn, if I do say so myself!

 

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