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Reviews

The Newspaper West

In Flint's Honor, Richard Wheeler has painted a realistic portrait of life in a Colorado mining town, with special emphasis on the importance of newspapers in the civic life of the frontier West.

Sam Flint (a character continuing to develop from two earlier Wheeler novels) is an idealistic newspaperman first drawn to raucous Silver City (a town in a gulch "two miles long and three yards wide") after reading a vicious account of a young prostitute's suicide written by Digby Westminster, editor and publisher of the Silver City Democrat. Appalled, Flint resolves to take his printing press to Silver City to start up a rival newspaper, one that will champion—among other things—reforms intended to spread the tax burden more fairly, to the relief of the denizens of the town's "sporting district" who presently carry it.

In elite academic circles. Westerns are condemned as subliterate pabulum for celebrating self-reliance in a contemporary world of victims, yet they remain—with the exception of the mystery-detective novel—the only really plot-driven fiction still published. Considered this way, the Western has more in common with classic American fiction than with the ideologically trendy and vacuous postmodern American writing prevalent today. I find it odd that Dashiell Hammett's and Raymond Chandler's noir classics are now popular in the academy,...

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