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Posted September 12, 2012
I've long been a fan of Charles Gramlich's work as a fantasy writer, but I was not familiar with his body of work in the western genre. So when he announced in 2011 that he was coming out with a short anthology of his western shorts, I made sure to put it on my to read list once I had acquired an e-reader.
"Killing Trail" features 5 excellent short stories and two very good essays that are guaranteed to keep you turning the page and make you go "Hey, I did not know that."
Charles has a talent for creating characters that could be considered anti-heroes, but gives them enough humanity to make the average reader sympathize and root for them, in spite of the perceived shortcomings.
I highly recommend this anthology as it presents yet another side of the western genre that is often overlooked.
Posted September 4, 2011
Even though I've managed to read a few books in the genre over the past couple years, I'm still pretty new to the Western outside of the movies. But I know good storytelling, regardless of the setting, and Charles Gramlich is as good a storyteller as anyone I've read. I really enjoyed this short collection of his Western tales. For example, one story has the best description of a gunfight I've read in a long time: it is a single, short sentence long. That seems simple enough, but trust me, it isn't.
Another thing about Gramlich's collections that I like, which one also finds in his BITTER STEEL collection, is he includes essays about how he came to write whatever stories are collected, some background stuff, behind the scenes, etc. In this particular book he talks about how he grew up with Westerns, and includes a short essay on one of his biggest influences not only as a writer of Westerns but just as an author in general, Louis L'Amour.
This stuff inspires me to blow the dust off some of my own attempts with Westerns and see them finished. That's pretty high praise for a book, and I'm giving my highest to this one.