Once in a while I have to brag on the writers who inspire me. Hansen is one of a shortlist of these - a writer of great range who can occasionally leave me slack-jawed at his turns-of-the phrase.
He's hardly a genre writer - and that too inspires me - moving between literate westerns, literary, fiction, historical fiction, and the humorous - despite the pub industry's insistence on handcuffing writers with one of these categories.
It is 1881. Jesse James, at the age of 34, is at the height of his fame and powers as a singularly successful outlaw. Robert Ford is the skittish younger brother of one of the James gang: he has made himself an expert on the gang, but his particular interest — his obsession — is Jesse James himself. Both drawn to him and frightened of him, the nineteen-year-old is uncertain whether he wants to serve James or destroy him or, somehow, become him. Never have these two men been portrayed and their saga explored with such poetry, such grim precision and such raw-boned feeling as Ron Hansen has brought to this masterful retelling. — from the jacket Wonderful. This is great storytelling, not undermined by our knowing how it turns out. The reader is driven — by story and by language and by history...the best blend of fiction and history I've read in a long while! — John Irving Vivid and sustained. — New York Times Book Review As he did in Desperadoes...Ron Hansen has turned low history into high art. This is a terrific book. — Newsday Recalls the literature of Americana by John Steinbeck, Erskine Caldwell, Willa Cather, and Hamlin Garland.... Hansen has broadened our perception of the West in much the same way as the best historians ... and proven himself one of our finest stylists of American historical fiction. — The Christian Science Monitor Here is the James book. Let your prize $1,000 mint copy of Jake Spencer's Life and Career of Frank and Jesse James (published a week after the outlaw's death) repose peacefully on your shelf of scarce Americana. Put Hansen on your bedside table. — Richmond News-Leader Retells the familiar stories, making them fresh, finding in them an unresolvable mystery and tragedy about fame and ambition in America. This book is a wonderful achievement. — San Francisco Chronicle The language of Hansen's novel is dense and textured, requiring careful reading. The pleasure of the book is in the eloquence of its dialogue and description, which are both literary and historically appropriate. — A thickly textured novel [that] seems to hover deliberately between fiction and biography.... [Hansen has] crafted a very effective novel — Peter S Prescott, Newsweek A first-rate piece of craftsmanship that gives off the aura of legend without ever letting us succumb to any sentimental or ignorant aspects — Alan Cheuse, Los Angeles Times Book Review Hansen continues his tales of the real West with his imaginative retelling of the life of the most famous outlaw of them all, Jesse James, and of his death at the hands of the upstart Robert Ford. — Amazon.com
Causes Bob Mustin Supports
Native American culture. Education. Creative writing.