Posts Tagged With: western fictioneer

Dime Novels-The history of the Western

As a western writer, I have been looking back at our history, even before Zane Grey, and Louis L’Amour. What was the first western? and where did we begin?

Personally I would have to say we got our start as many genres did from the Dime Novel era, from 1860 to 1895 the dime novel served as Americas first paperback, and From gun-slinging heroes to mysteries, the dime novel is notably the beginning of genre fiction. This ideology of the dime novel was particularly apparent in Westerns, in which the heroes always won and the villains were always brutally punished.

Some scholars a that dime novel westerns appealed most to young, and working-class men – The mythic West of the cowboy as a place where class boundaries were marked in the industrializing East and the Midwest did not prevail.

Dime novelists helped to popularize the cowboy myth, but as Richard Slotkin notes, he had earlier precedents in American literature – tales about Davy Crockett and Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales.

The cowboy figure arose out of long literary tradition of frontiersmen that informed his character. Richard Slotkin, in Regeneration through Violence, demonstrates the beginnings of the American myth by carefully tracing the early figure, focusing on the influences of John Filson’s creation of Daniel Boone in 1784 and, building on Filson, James Fenimore Cooper’s The Leatherstocking Tales (1823) (importance also noted in Milton 7-9, 84-87).

Interpretation of the dime novel western actually embodies a world in which the values and practices of the pre-industrial order are given renewed life: a place in which machines still stand in gardens and where everyone is a worker.

As Americans began to mourn the “closing of the frontier,” they simultaneously began to celebrate the cowboy, who quickly became the hero of the mythic West.

It may have been the emergence of modern America, with its urbanization and industrialization, that sparked an additional interest among its people for a past that was more direct, more simple, more easily understood


The nation had, some held, grown too fast, had lost something in that process; and now there was a yearning to return to that fast-disappearing life, as we know the Cowboy was not always regarded as an American hero. In fact, as late as the 1880s, the were regarded as violent and uncontrollable.

However the Dime Novel was a way to revisit the frontier, and by reading you could simply slip yourself bac

k into a simpler way of life. Today as western authors we spend our time praising the outlaws, and making them hero’s, as well as creating new one’s. We write what the west was about, and bring forth the tales of Buffalo Bill Cody, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Jesse James, and others, but without the Dime Novel, I think we wouldn’t have the western’s we write today, without the creation of the Dime Novel.


Categories: Western, Western Authors, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Cowboy: An Iconic Symbol of American History

I had a chance to talk to several western genre authors, and writers about their feelings on the National day of the Cowboy, and it becoming a national day of recognition of our American heritage and the American Cowboy’s Heritage. During my interviews, and conversations with many of the authors and writers, I expressed how I would like to honor the National Day of the Cowboy by posting our personal feelings on the rich history that we know and love to write about. I feel it is important that our readers see, that we as authors want to support the movement in recognizing the Cowboy as a day we celebrate here in America.  I was able to get nine of the authors I spoke with, to guest post on my blog to honor the Day of the Cowboy. This week here on my blog, as well as my very good friend, and co-author Tim Bultman’s blog at  will be sharing  and honoring the true history of our country,and the true and rich history of our American Cowboy as it was when the Cowboy paved the way for America.

This Morning I would like to introduce a western wordslinger, as he is known Mathew Pizzolato. Hello Matt, What is your take on the iconic symbol of the American Cowboy.

Matthew Pizzolato

There are few things in this world that are unique to this country. The Western genre as a whole and the cowboy in particular go hand in hand as symbols that represent everything that is American.

The cowboy that rode across the American West helped to settle this country. He braved Indian attack, wild horses, stampedes, drowning and every other form of horrible death imaginable. The cowboy’s time came and went, but it was glorious while it lasted. While it was a period of danger and death, it was also one of loyalty and honor.

The cowboy often rode from can-see till can’t-see and faced death every second he was in the saddle. In fact, many of them lost their lives or suffered debilitating injuries. It was said one could tell a cowboy by his missing fingers or a gimp leg.

While he faced death every day, the cowboy was a man of honor, integrity and loyalty. He rode for the brand and was loyal until death. When he gave his word, he kept it no matter the consequences. Most of all, the cowboy was self reliant. He depended on no one but himself to get the job done.

The cowboy is a stereotype that transcended gender and ethnicity and encompassed all political affiliation. All cowboys and cowgirls adhered to a strict personal code that has quietly slipped away from popular American consciousness.

As a Western writer, I strive to keep the spirit of the cowboy and the American West alive in my work. It is my way of honoring those brave and hardy souls who made this country great. My characters, whether they are cowboys, lawmen or outlaws, exemplify the cowboy’s spirit of honor, integrity and loyalty.

Perhaps former president George W. Bush best described the meaning of the National Day of the Cowboy. “We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”

Modern American society has fallen away from the virtues that the cowboy held dear and would benefit from being made aware of the cowboy’s lifestyle, of his values and of his personal code. That is why the National Day of the Cowboy is so important.

It honors an icon that lives on in the hearts and minds of those who read and write Westerns and is exemplified everyday by those modern day cowboys and cowgirls who live and work on ranches in all 50 states, not to mention those who participate in rodeos all around the world.

The National Day of the Cowboy brings to the forefront the values that shaped this country and it honors a true American legend – the cowboy, who gave his blood, sweat and tears and many of them their lives, to those of us alive today and it’s something we shouldn’t forget.

By Matthew Pizzolato

Matthew Pizzolato is a member of Western Fictioneers. His short story collection, THE WANTED MAN, is available for the Amazon Kindle and as a Barnes and Noble NOOK BOOK. His fiction has been published online and in print in such publications as: BEAT to a PULP!, The Copperfield Review, PULP MODERN, Frontier Tales Magazine, The Pink Chameleon Online, Perpetual Magazine, Long Story Short, and The Storyteller. He writes a weekly NASCAR column for Insider Racing News and is a contributing writer for Matthew can be contacted via his personal website: or he can be found on Twitter @mattpizzolato. When he’s not writing, Matthew is the Editor-in-Chief and webmaster of The Western Online.

Amazon Book Link: The Wanted Man

My Blog: The Western Wordslinger

My Facebook Page:

Categories: Cowboy Code, Current Events, NDOC, Western, Writing, Writing Technique | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Outlaw Ritchie White AKA “Bo Rivers” Strikes Again

This morning I was enjoying a cup of Joe, after waking up from a grand siesta, when the strangest thing happened, I received a phone call from my grandmothers house. You would think it was just a social call, and to check in on me to see how things were as she does from time to time. However, when I answered the phone my Uncle bellers where are you? and I replied home, getting my child ready for school, why? well here is the story, and I found it rather amusing to tell.

A strange man, “lawyer” called my grandmother stating her grandson was in a car accident with a foreign person, and her grandson was in jail. Now the foreign  person had left the country and had no intentions of pressing charges, however I needed bail money to get out of the sticky situation. The lawyer didn’t even know my name,and several times stated your grandson, so to find out which grandson, my grandmother asked which one, and offered up my name for starters, knowing that there are only two of her grandsons old enough to to drive she thought of starting with the oldest and working to the younger of us two fine grandsons. Low and behold, one the gentleman heard my name he immediately said yes that one, which clearly lights up the ole noggin, he was my lawyer, but had no idea what my name was until it was offered. Another part of this fine scam “a foreign person left the country”, OK who finds this unbelievable. I mean really if someone gets into an accident they will surely stick around to see the case through, not leave the country immediately.

My grandmother ensured him that there was no money to give, but said. “leave the information” just in case it wasn’t a scam, which led the man to abruptly hang up.  As this fine tale began to come to an end my uncle came in the door, and asked what it was about. My grandmother told him the story, which made him think “oh dear, better find out”, so he began to track me down, which jail I was in, and called my wife to ask if she had any details, etc. He then rang me with the last hope that a miracle would happen and sure enough I was on the other end, to explain that I had no such accident, I had just woke up with my cup of Joe.

So you see, I just thought I would let ya’ll know don’t hire an Ecuadorean Lawyer that don’t know your name, chances are he’ll take the money and run. After all, I was sitting on my  couch having a cup of Joe, and waking myself from a grand siesta, and turned into an outlaw in just a phone call. ………….And I thought I was the Western Fictioneer.

Categories: Current Events, Western | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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