Review: Longhorns by Victor J Banis

 

Review by Erastes

From the blurb: The Double H cowboys are a tough bunch, and none of them are gay – exactly- but they have been out there on the prairie for several weeks, herding cattle, and new thoughts have begun to enter their minds. Enter Buck, a handsome young drifter with a silly grin, an unembarrassed penchant for being “rode hard,” and an instant hankering for Les

Well, howdy pardner, git yer six shooters, put on yer spurs, mount yer pinto, and meet me out on the plains because this here is classic and familiar manly territory, the land of the cowpuncher, the lassoo, the round-up and the stampede. Where men are men, a horse is a cowboy’s best friend, and  cows are nervous substitutes for da ladeez.

Um.

Except not. This is grand ole pulp and enjoyable as the rodeo ride is where the wind comes racing down the wossit – it doesn’t convince as accurate history.

Buck is a newcomer to Les’ round-up gang (yee hah) and is cheeky and sex-mad and determined to get laid by just about anyone.  He forms a fuck-buddy relationship early on, but his eyes and soon his heart is taken by the seemingly straight as an arrow Les, so he pesters Les to have his wicked way with him.

Pesters sums it up, too – as I did find him a pest, to be frank. If I’d have been Les I’d have sacked him (however good he was on a horse) or beaten him up, sharpish. He does the latter later on, and I’m afraid I actually cheered. 

It was unconvincing to me because I couldn’t get over the OKHomo. There’s this band of hard-ridin’, rootin’, tootin’ hombres in the prairie and they don’t bat an eyelid at this overtly queer cowboy who makes absolutely no secret about what he wants.  Not only are they all OK with it, but most of them are at it too. 

I don’t doubt that some did, but all of them?  Banis lost an opportunity for conflict here, as I’d much have preferred a realistic situation where at least some of them were violently antagonistic instead of taking bets on when Buck and Les get together. I hate to bring bi-sexual shepherds into this, but even in the 60′s this was a serious problem. I don’t want unremitting homophobia in my books, or angst angst angst either, but I do think that ignoring the fact that it could be dangerous to admit you were gay denigrates the genre.  Imagine what people would say if someone wrote a historical novel where everyone in, say, 18th century Alabama, married black people without even a second thought.

The anachronisms jarred me too – I know that a lot of people don’t care about this, but this is the blog relating to gay Historical fiction, and so I’m obliged to comment. Blowjob is an English Polari term not coined until the mid-20th century, boner is 20th century, Stetsons weren’t called that officially until the turn of the century, and so on and on.

However – putting all that aside, and if you treat this parallel to , say, an early John Ford movie – it’s as enjoyable as Stagecoach, and about as accurate. It’s a fun raunchy ride, but it didn’t do anything much for me, I’m afraid.  I’m more an “Unforgiven” kind of reader, and less “Young Guns.”

Buy:  ADL online    Amazon USA

8 Responses

  1. I’m sorry but were you pointing out historical accuracy of a Cowboy Western story? You realize the whole thing is pretty much a fantasy anyway right?

    Zane Grey and a bunch of early news writers created the whole mythology to begin with (It’s all made up like Johnny Appleseed.)

    I also show Victor a lot of respect for helping found Gay Romance during the old pulp days which he is one of the few left still writing.

    Anyway check out Queer Cowboys by Chris Packard over at Amazon.com which is a very very good start in order to understand this whole Cowboy Western more. It is eye opening, though dry and academic, and very informative.

  2. Plus I have to admit to being a comparative reviewer.

    After reading craptastic works like Bareback by Chris Owen or Frontiers by Michael Jensen thank god for short but sweet books like this.

  3. Thanks Teddy – I’ll check out the Packard thing.

    Yes – I guess I was pretty aware that the accuracy was moot when it came to cowboys, as it was a brief candle of existence in the real world anyway, and hollywood certainly has a lot to take the blame for. I know that a lot of people don’t care one way or the other whether their historicals are accurate or not and that’s fine too, of course. It’s just that I can’t help it. I’m not an expert and would never attempt to be one, but I can’t help but dislike the Barbie and Ken style of historicals. Part of the problem is that people emulate them – one mega successful historical along the lines of “His Virgin Slave” (made up title , although I’m sure there is a book of that title) and everyone jumps on the bandwagon and copies what they’ve seen before. It happens a lot with Heyer – whilst a lot of her books have accuracies in them, some of it is – as far as etymologists can ascertain – made up – but these people who write Regency after Regency copy her terminologies and after a while they become canon fact in the Regency writers world.

    I’m glad you enjoyed Longhorns, I hope I made it clear that I found it an enjoyable read, too – but it just fell down in certain areas.

  4. Erastes,

    To some extent I agree if you are going to write in the era then research at least a little. But always remember the exceptions to the rule … Zane Grey and Agatha Christie wrote tons and tons and tons of books that were not all the great or even very accurate. They are loved though and considered classics.

    I think in Romance it is not how accurate you write the background but how well you write a characters love story and their interaction. Minutia can ruin things, no argument, but one should always keep an eye on the relationship described because that is the meat of the story most people want to read about.

    I liked the way Victor approached this relationship about a rough man not especially prone to having any type of closeness being won over by a more carefree type personality in a very masculine way.

    That really is the underlying code of the Cowboy Western Story where in essence immortalizing the raw masculinity while exploring themes of honor and courage is key and Victor recognized and paid homage to that idealization of the mythology.

    He was not writing to address the real history of real cowboys anymore than Zane Grey was, but instead using the history of the Cowboy Western Story.

  5. Have you read Cap Iverson’s Dakota Taylor trilogy of gay Western romances, Erastes? If not I suggest you do post haste. They are just about perfect examples of the genre (in my humble opinion).

  6. Hi Cerisaye – no – I hadn’t even heard of them – I will seek them out and add them to the List asap – thank you!

  7. Actually, I already emailed you personally, Erastes, but someone said I should read the comments that had been posted and also that I should post here. Interesting. As I said in my email, thank you for taking the time to review my book. I am sorry it didn’t please you more, but I have long believed that it was the good Lord who made chocolate and vanilla.

    Victor

  8. [...] A Review of Victor J. Banis ~ Longhorns A Discussion Of A Dear Author’s Query A Review of Marion Zimmer Bradley ~ The Catch Trap [...]

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