Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Louis L'Amour: His Life and Trails

Finished Robert Phillips' Louis L'Amour: His Life and Trails. An Unauthorized Biography (Toronto: PaperJacks, Ltd., 1989), a quick-paced biography of the prolific writer. 

Reading about Louis L'Amour's (1908-1988) life, two things stand out even beyond his remarkable output of novels and stories. Those two things?  Poetry and boxing. Combine them into one and you have Louis L'Amour's "yondering" years, which comprises more than half of his time on Earth. Clearly, he's got some of the same spirit as Teddy Roosevelt -- a voracious appetite for books and landscape, for adventure and wilderness. From yondering he switches gear into "the almost monastic life" of writing, eventually settling down to produce on average five pages per day and thirty-five pages per week. Throughout his life, he scoffs at age and genre categorizations, expectations and preconceptions. At forty-eight, after dating a French widow and Julie Newmar, among many others, he marries Newmar's friend Kathy Adams, age twenty-two. They eventually have two kids and remain married until his death thirty-two years later.

L'Amour combines life experience with an intense and wide-ranging curiosity about the world, about history and culture. He does his homework. "You are your own best teacher . . . My advice is to question all things. Seek for answers, and when you find what seems to be an answer, question that, too" (Phillips, page 59). On establishing himself as a writer, he notes: "My stories came back like homing pigeons . . . Frankly, . . . that's when my training as a fighter helped me . . . One thing you learn early is that if you get knocked down, you've got to get up again. It's the same thing with writing" (Phillips, page 80). That's good advice for any writer.  

Today's Rune: Possessions.          


Charles Gramlich said...

I've read a couple of L'Amour bios, though not this one. Sounds interesting. I'll get it. The guy did have an amazing life and I really enjoy his work a lot

Charles Gramlich said...

I take it back. I do have this one. Pretty decent read.

the walking man said...

Dang Charles what did you do...go check the alphabetized section of your library...by title or author?

I know about the knocked down and getting up part but once up aren't you supposed to knock the other guy down? That always worked for me...but then I ain't talking about writing either.

Adorably Dead said...

I really like that end quote there!