Tuesday, January 8, 2013

W1: Fury and the Mustangs

Like thunder, it came. A slow crescendo of tumbling gears and pulleys culminating into the first ever book I received from the Biblio-Mat: Fury and the Mustangs by Albert G. Miller. A 1960 1st edition 186pg hardcover with a tight dustjacket in the same painted style as the Hardy Boys. But that’s not all, this book is also the Authorized TV Edition – it says so on the cover!

It also matches my desk rather nicely.
A mashup of three different plot lines shoehorned into one narrative, FatM has everything in the classic western genre. A boy and the eponymous horse, Fury, chase down horse rustlers, meet a man with no name, fight a forest fire, and bring a bank robber to justice while turning the heart of the coldblooded business tycoon. Yep, books were ruining attention spans way before video games and the internet.

Obviously meant for teenage boys, the language is dumbed down a bit but tolerable. Moral lessons are injected into every other page, but what else would you expect from the 60’s? Literal to the point of explaining how the bad guy’s actions make him a bad guy, the book is nonetheless entertaining for two reasons. 1: awesome horse illustrations - 

If only they had the foresight to name him Passive Aggressive.

And 2: there are no women in it. Three guys on a ranch quarrel with two other men who own a neighbouring ranch. Four men are hired who help but turn out to be part of a smuggling ring containing three other guys. The sheriff, fire warden, shopkeeper, mysterious visitor, town fire brigade - all male. There was a woman that made a brief two paragraph appearance. She said she wasn’t a gossip right before telling them she had been spying on their neighbor. They thanked her for the information then presumably told her to get back in the kitchen.

The omission of women in this story was probably a good idea, though. Half the plot points hinged on male machismo and a sensible female voice would have subverted the not so subtly contrived situations. Random stranger with a questionable past wanders into town? Invite him back to your place to take care of your kid! Going after a gang of armed horse thieves? Take the ten year old with you!

Apparently pubescent boys are bulletproof.
The whole nasty forest fire business itself could have been averted with a gentle reminder that cigarettes are flammable, but then we would have lost twenty pages of aimless inferno wandering, and that would have been a real tragedy.

Book rating:  6.5/10 (an extra half point for the sweet dustjacket and binding)
Random quote: “But dang it, Jim-” “Danging it won’t do a bit of good”

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