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To Swallow the Earth
By Ransom Wilcox
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
Hey, psst, a quick question: Is there anyone left in America writing actual great Westerns? I of course can't answer this question myself, because I don't specifically seek out books in this genre; but I have to admit, out of all the Westerns we voluntarily get sent to us here at CCLaP by publishers and authors, nearly 100 percent of them turn out like Ransom Wilcox's new To Swallow the Earth, a book so derivative that it often feels like a parody of a Western instead of a good real example of one. Less a full novel and more a series of stereotypical set pieces, Wilcox's book comes across many times like if a space alien had tried to write in this genre by only being exposed to cartoons that are satirizing movies that were adaptations of the original Western novels the ETs are trying to mimic; I don't know if this is because the genre simply ran out of unique ideas somewhere around the mid-1970s, or if this is a problem confined to Wilcox specifically, but the result is a book filled with easily guessable plot turns and tiredly cliched characters and dialogue. A minimal recommendation today -- I suppose diehard fans of Westerns, the kind who blow through a different novel like this every single day, will find this not a bad choice for a random Tuesday -- but for everyone else, it's easily skippable.
Out of 10: 6.8