Anglo Magic

Field of Blood is one of the best new novels I have read in many a year, a superbly written book by a Russian scholar and analyst who is also a careful artist, a stylist, and a poet in prose and in form who has accomplished what few essayists and nonfiction authors ever succeed at: mastering, with apparent effortlessness, the craft of fiction.  Wayne Allensworth has written a fine novel worthy of comparison with some of the best American works of fiction in recent times.

The subtitle, “A Modern Western,” is Mr. Allensworth’s cue to the reader: a reference both to a literary genre and a particular geographical and culture setting, the American West.  The “Western”—that pulpy concoction dating from the late 19th century and rising only occasionally to the level of real literary merit—continues to hang around, mainly on the revolving book racks placed in pharmacies and convenience stores.  Its original inspiration, melodramatic, moralistic, and culturally vainglorious though it was, had some basis in reality, but one that had largely ceased to exist at about the time it was appropriated by Hollywood.  Nevertheless, it lingered through the 1950’s before the revisionist and highly ideological anti-Westerns (most of them cinematic) of the next decade finished it off, save on the shelves of Walmart.

Field of Blood,...

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