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Journal Of Gun Years Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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Editorial Reviews

Review

''The best novel I read last year.'' -- Stephen King

''The best Western of the season!'' -- Booklist

''The author gives his story a credibility and honesty unusual in the genre.'' --Publishers Weekly

''Breathtaking. . . first-rate. . . impossible to put down. Mr. Matheson has done something remarkable: with a single novel he has placed himself in the front rank of Western novelists.'' -- Richard S. Wheeler, author of Vengeance Valley

''Some of the best damn writing Matheson's done in his spectacular career.'' -- Loren D. Estleman, author of Gas City

''A novel filled with remarkable surprises. . . A fine and unique book.'' --Ed Gorman, New York Times bestselling author

''A remarkable western novel. It strips the romanticism from the old West, but retains the blood-and-guts violence, as well as the high excitement of the frontier. Clay Halser's journals are the stuff of myth.'' -- Norman Zollinger, author of The Road to Santa Fe

''Journal of the Gun Years is a three carat diamond. Read and enjoy it without delay.'' --Max Evans, author of For the Love of Horses --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

From the Publisher

8 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Berkley (March 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425132072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425132074
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,717,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
While browsing through the bookstore, my eye caught this blurb on the cover of this novel. "The best novel I read last year." The quote is from Stephen King, no less. When I saw that the author was Richard Matheson, I was very surprised since I primarily know Matheson as a writer of horror. Westerns have not been an element of my previous reading history but I decided to give it a try. God, was I glad that I did! I now rate this novel as one of my top three all time favorites. Matheson's approach is to take the traditional story of the life of a gunslinger in the old West and look at it from the inside out. The novel takes the form of a journal written by Clay Hauser from his beginning as a frightened soldier in the Cival War to his inevitable destiny in a small mining town. From outlaw to lawman (and sometimes back again) during this ten year period, Matheson does a wonderful job in depicting the deterioration of a potentially great man. I felt genuinely sad at the end of this powerful novel. I've been recommending this novel throughout the Internet whenever I get the chance. I think that it's time that people began to realize that the modern Western is a 'new' genre filled with interesting writing and stories. I would have thought that people would have been more influenced by the success of Lonesome Dove. (Another of my top three favorites, by the way.) C'MON, people, get on the ball and stop being afraid to explore new avenues of literature. Because that's exactly what this novel is, Great Literature!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Richard Mattheson is arguably best known for his novel(la) I AM LEGEND, a classic horror novel which much has been written about by fans, critics, and peers. I bring this up because some authors write in a genre very well and experiment or cross over to another genre and even if the story is as strong are not as successful in their second writing category. Even master Stephen King's Dark Tower series where he moves easily from his renown horror tales to dark fantasy isn't as critically or popularly acclaimed as his other books. Mattheson moved his horrific prose into an old west setting gracefully and smoothly. He uses the same economy of words to tell the story of Marshall Halser, who not much of a plot spoiler to add gets shot in opening chapters.
The narrotor is Halser not from beyond the grave per se but in the form of his journals in the hands of a friend and journalist who wishes to publicize them to seperate myth from man. As I said Mattheson is spare in his writing not using five pages of details where one will do, instead he writes a tight plot making this a quick fun read.
Incidentally it won the 1991 Spur award so my praise of his genre transition is a little redundant hehehe.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Richard Matheson is one of my favorite authors, and I was not disappointed in this book. I don't usually read westerns (although I love western movies), but his name was enough to entice me to read this one---I normally read sci-fi and horror. It's told from the gunfighter's point of view, mostly, as excerpts from his journal. It was found by a reporter after the gunfighter's death---the reporter occasionally adds his own explanations and tidbits to flesh out the story. The gunfighter does encounter a couple of real historic characters, and some of his exploits are obviously based on actual incidents that occurred in the Old West.

If you like westerns or Richard Matheson, I can definitely recommend this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
How this hasn't been adapted into one of the best Western movies ever is beyond me. Clay Halser is, easily, one of the greatest Western characters ever created. Matheson had me googling to find out if he was based on a real person -- the portrayal was that believable.

Tabloid journalism of his day painted a picture of Halser as an unstoppable, lead-spewing gunslinger who could outdraw and outfight any given horde of Indians or outlaws foolish enough to cross his path. In reality, he damn near could, though the toll taken on the flesh and blood Halser, especially in later, tragic years, would be a mean one. In his own words, "...it was drab, and dirty, and there was a lot of blood."

Despite this, Halser's tale, told primarily by his own journal entries, is enthralling, and, at times, laugh out loud funny, with dialogue and one-liners as good as anything I've ever read or seen in a movie -- I mean, just sharp, witty, hilarious stuff. It makes for great counterpoints to the turmoil and strife Halser is often faced with during one incredible, tumultuous decade.

Regardless of the tidal forces of destiny that he often felt at the mercy of, Halser was a good man who fought for justice -- and often, simply his life -- in a time when law and order were commodities bought and paid for in bullets and blood.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not a fan of western books in general, but this one had my attention from page one. I fell in love with the characters and it is a very quick read. I borrowed this from the library and bought it to read again and again. The book came in perfect condition; no complaints at all.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
My admiration for Richard Matheson kicked up a notch when I came across JOURNAL OF THE GUN YEARS in the Western section of B&N. I had no idea Matheson dabbled in the western genre but, after reading this tightly-crafted, gripping account of a legendary shootist, I say "More power to him." JOURNAL OF THE GUN YEARS is a winner, actually a Spur Award winner for Best Western novel published in 1991.

Matheson's novel traces the fictional life and times - and crimes - of Clay Halser, a directionless farm boy with a talent for shooting. After serving in the Civil War, he drifts westward into a career as a desperado-turned-lawman before meeting his inevitable fate.

Though Matheson's novel tells the story of one man's checkered career, it is equally a cautionary tale on fame and the cost it extracts from that individual. The media transforms Halser into a storied, larger-than-life character, an image that eventually overwhelms the man. By the end of this affecting novel, the "great gunfighter" has been lionized and feted but is empty, lonely and scared with nary a true friend in sight.

Matheson does a wonderful job of channeling the Old West. Halser seems an amalgam of Hickok, Wyatt Earp with a little Billy the Kid thrown in. One of Halser's best friends seems a Doc Holliday doppelganger and so on. JOURNAL OF THE GUN YEARS is exciting, gritty and poignant; all in all, a great read. Recommended.

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