Best Adventures of 1961 (2)
September 6, 2016
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1961 adventure novels. Happy 55th anniversary!
Elmore Leonard’s revisionist Western adventure Hombre.
The narrator of this novella, the prolific author’s fifth Western (but first really good one), is a timid librarian who finds himself traveling by stagecoach with five others, including the infamous John Russell, a white man who’d been raised by Apaches and now works as a tribal police officer on their reservation. Another passenger is a government Indian Affairs agent whose greed has left the Apaches half-starving… and who is carrying the money he has embezzled. Russell is shunned by the bigoted passengers, until the stagecoach is robbed, and a female passenger kidnapped. (This is an ironic turn of events, as the woman — the wife of the shady Indian Affairs agent — had declared, earlier, that only Apaches kidnap women; the stagecoach robbers are white.) Now it’s up to Russell to lead the group to safety across the Arizonan wilderness.
Fun fact: Hombre was adapted, more or less faithfully, as a 1967 movie directed by Martin Ritt. Paul Newman played the title character. Elmore Leonard stopped writing for nearly a decade, after Hombre was published; he then resurfaced as a crime novelist.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1961 adventures that you particularly admire.