READ [The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford] Author Ron Hansen
Typeface in the paperback version is uite small making the book seem endless though perhaps this is a gift in a strange way too But if ou can deal with this and accept the pace and heavy description this is a rewarding novel about a fascinating time in history I mean seriously What a ing book and what a ing writer As an appreciator of fine writing skill this book was a mind blowing mind buckling mind boggling experience This guy has it hands down over Cormac McCarthy and that s saying a lot because McCarthy is a master of American storytelling But McCarthy is not this This is a brilliant wordsmithery and I wonder if it hadn t been made into a movie would it have been as well read as it was Every aspiring author or author looking to improve their craft should read this Maybe not to copy his voice and style but just to see how a deft dealing of words can power an imagination to fly in places it has never goneFor example one of the dozens of definitions of who Jesse James was For the man was canny he was intuitive he anticipated everything He continually looked over his shoulders he looked into the background with mirrors he locked his sleeping room at night he could pick out a whisper in the wind he could register the slightest added value a man put into his words he could probably read the faltering and perfidy in Bob s face He once numbered the spades on a playing card that skittered across the street a city block away he licked his daughter s cut finger and there wasn t even a scar the next day he wrestled with his son and the two Fords at once one afternoon and rarely even tilted it was like grappling with a tree When Jesse predicted rain it rained when he encouraged plants they grew when he scorned animals they retreated whomever he wanted to stir he astonishedYes Mic drop This is a very good story but somehow I find myself liking the movie better than the bookThere were some great moments every single time Jesse James Bob Ford would interract I would hold my breath Their love hate relationship was truly fascinatingThat said I struggled a bit with the writing style which I found a bit dull and dry For me the excitment and the tension of the story was somewhat lost in all the details and the very uneven pace When this book was made into a movie a few ears ago I heard an interview with Ron Hansen on NPR and I liked the way he talked about writing and fiction and nonfiction and people and characters and God Then I forgot about him for a long time until I recently decided that I want to start reading westerns and I remembered the title of this book even though it isn t really a western At first it was a little bit annoying to me it seemed like Ron spent too long writing each of his sentences or like he was very pleased with himself every time he verbed a noun or adjective Once I got used to it
and settled into the story though I liked it Jesse James spent settled into the story though I liked it Jesse James spent of his time in Missouri same state as me He wore the same size of belt as me and weighed the same but was two inches shorter and he survived for one ear longer than Jesus did He was a charming weirdo who was popular when he was alive and even popular when he was dead despite having murdered sixteen people Here s a part where Bob his friend who eventually killed him is describing him He was bigger than Hooking Him you can imagine and he couldn t get enough to eat He ate all the food in the dining room and then he ate all the plates and the glasses and the light off the candles he ate all the air inour lungs and the thoughts right out of Training the Trainer your mind You d go to him wanting to be with him wanting to be like him andou d always come away missing something Bob looked at the girl with
ANGER AND OF COURSE SHE WAS and of course she was peculiarly at him He said So now ou know why I shot himOscar Wilde happened to be in town when Jesse was killed and he wrote a letter to a friend saying The Americans are certainly great hero worshippers and always take their heroes from the criminal class Now I think we re all probably incapable of even having heroes and I can t tell whether that s an improvement or not. Ron Hansen has brought to this masterful retelling 'Wonderful This is great storytelling not undermined by our knowin 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 author of The World According to Gar. ,
T particularly fond of the term a writers writer it seems
far too dismissive and a little pretentious but I m not sure I can find a fitting description for Ron Hansentoo dismissive and a little pretentious but I m not sure I can find a fitting description for Ron Hansen for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in Ron Hansen entitled this remarkable book The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford not because he agrees that Robert Ford was coward indeed Bob Ford spends much of the last third of the book attempting to prove that he was not a coward instead Hansen seems to be drawing our attention to the fickle attitudes of a public that romanticized Jesse and demonized Bob Yet Hansen s Jesse James while one of the most compelling and well wrought characters ever committed to a novel is far from a hero He is a simple thief a murderer a man that beats children and expresses no regret for it Eventually these sins warp him into a man wracked by superstition and paranoia The title seems to draw attention not to Ford s alleged cowardice but to his other sins his pride his vanity his wrath and most importantly his envy A murderer at the age of twenty Robert Ford s name forever became synonymous with the death of Jesse James An outcome which Ford in his outh and naivete actively sought thinking it would bring him fame and glory He discovered instead that the act gained him the loathing of an entire country As one segment puts it No account he d ever read had the grace to remark on when or where he was born who his kin were and how he was raised they never remarked on the Moore School Blue Cut the grocery store his agreement with the government it seemed enough to say that Bob Ford was the man who shot Jesse James as if his existence could be encompassed in that one act of perfidyThe tragedy of Bob Ford is not that he went down in history as a coward Hansen demonstrates throughout that the judgments of history are arbitrary and to court its favor leads only to misery Rather Hansen seems to hint that the true tragedy is that Ford never came to recognize his sins as such defending his actions when confronted putting up a wall of pride constantly defending his honor with further acts of violence Even until the very end Robert Ford is unable to utter the words that would absolve him of the burden of guilt words of humility and contrition that proved beyond his reach even in the face of death Very entertaining Well researched historic fiction or fictionalized history and a stark portrait of nineteenth century Ame I fell in love with this book on the first page with the opening lines He was growing into middle age and was living then in a bungalow on Woodland Avenue Green weeds split the porch steps a wasp nest clung to an attic gable a rope swing looped down from a dying elm tree and the ground below it was scuffed soft as flour There begins a master class in description that continues until the novel s end and the environment becomes almost as large a character as the protagonist himself as Hansen blends fiction myth and fact in the telling of final Before Atlantis years of Jesse JamesThere s a beautiful pace to the story that matches that of the era The story rarely gallops but instead focuses on the key moments in the build up to the critical event of the title And this should not be considered a criticism This is not a story of gimmicks and uick cuts of action and surprises though there is enough gun play to satisfy fans of the western genre The title ensures thatou are already party to the story s biggest surprise Instead The Gypsy Wisdom Spellbook you enter into this world as a historian fly on the wall haveour senses ignited and observe the downfall of a man many thought was great at the hands of a lesser man who felt himself bound for greatness It is a novel about the building of icons and the iconoclasts who would face them with the final third dealing with the Ford brothers celebrity after the assassination In re telling the story this way Hansen reveals the differences between fame and notoriety and the pitfalls of grandiose Life in the Slow Lane Observations on Art Architecture Manners and Other Such Spectator Sports youth wanting a shortcut to celebrity still present in society todayIf there s a criticism at all it s that the. His obsession is Jesse James himself Both drawn to him and frightened of him the nineteenear old is uncertain whether he wants to serve James or destroy him or somehow become himNever have these two men been portrayed and their saga explored with such poetry such grim precision and such raw boned feeling as. Historical fiction of the last few crimes of the James Gang the death of Jesse James and the subseuent struggles of those involved in his death particularly the man who pulled the trigger Robert Ford I had purchased this book thinking it was non fiction however it
is clearly historical fiction From subseuent research it appears to be based on facts The dialogue which obviouslyclearly historical fiction From subseuent research it appears to be based on facts The dialogue which obviously to be invented is believable James is portrayed as a complex personality He is simultaneously a remorseless killer and a family manHansen provides a vivid picture of life in the late 1800 s in scenes such as It was March then and the weather was nasty and the road was ice and muck and scrambled wagon ruts Their saddles creaked with every movement and their two horses were morose their nostrils were frosted and their manes were braided with icicles and if they rested the animals their coats would steam in the cold This book highlights one of the first celebrity obsessions Robert Ford is fixated on Jesse James and believes he will become a celebrity himself by association especially by the act of killing him It excels as a portrait of two complex men of historical significance but I am not sure it entirely succeeds as fiction as it does not provide rationale for James choice to pursue a life of robbery and murder nor does it explain the entrancing appeal James exerts on his followers Hansen s writing style occasionally slips into one associated with narrative non fiction Recommended to those interested in the American West of the late 19th century the life of notorious outlaws or the origins of celebrity adulation Jesse James was one arrogant son of a bitch During a train robbery he introduced himself to the engineer and the stoker as Jesse James the man they d read so much about He took a certain pride in his fame and infamy Jesse extricated himself from his heavy coat and laid it on the sofa with his hat Did I ever tell The Destruction of Jerusalem An Absolute and Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity you about meeting Mark TwainNoHe was in this country store and I recognized him of course and went over to shake the man s hand and congratulate him on his good writing I said You re Mark Twain ain tou and he nodded Three Cups of Tea yes he was and I said Guessou and I are about the greatest in our line He couldn t very well agree since he didn t know who I was so he asks and I say Jesse James and scoot out of there Hear tell he still talks about that They say 30 Day Alcohol Reboot: Rethink your drinking, reset your life you go over to Europe and the only Americans they all know for certain are Mark Twain andours truly Robert Ford is depicted as a fawning fanboy He has James criminal history committed to memory much as a tween girl who knows all the stats about her favorite band Turns out he is cut from the same cloth as Jesse they are both obsessed with "their reputations Pretty soon all of America will know who Bob Ford is Ford tells a police commissionerThe "reputations Pretty soon all of America will know who Bob Ford is Ford tells a police commissionerThe between James and Ford are uite good There is a crackly tension to their bromance Jesse suspects something may be off about Bob but his ego won t let him dump his biggest fan Jesse was once again alone and at ease with his meditations He said I can t figure it out do All God's Children Are Lost but Only a Few Can Play the Piano Finding a Life That Is Truly Your Own you want to be like me or doou want to be me BUT the whole book suffers from being too biography ish Dates and facts are carefully reported There are long descriptions of clothing furniture scenery and while the attention to detail is admirable it takes away from the characters You never really get to know anyone but Bob and Jesse Almost the last third of the book is taken up with the aftermath of the shooting Once James is out of the picture the tension is gone the A ha moment is over and this part really drags We re then treated to a rather tedious epilogue of EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER Much of the book is very very good but I also spent a lot of time wishing it would end so only three stars for this one What makes this book is the language Though I am no authority it has effectively captivated the language we would expect from the time Hansen is definitely a researcher and it shows but on top of that the story seems removed from the contemporary It breathes forward to us from a I m no. One of the great classic tales of The Great American WestIT 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 ounger brother of one of the James gang he has made himself an expert on the gang but his particular interest.