INSIDE THE SAGA
It took my fancy on several levels.
First is the fact that I make a small mention of Wild West pulp fiction in HEARTLAND On the Side of Angels, which is set in 1880's Wyoming. Here is the relevant excerpt high-lighting Jennifer 's frustration with Luke:
"You know what this whole situation reminds me of? One of those popular novels you can buy back east. All about the Wild West. The Five Cent Wide Awake Library is popular. Or Beadles Half Dime Library will give you all the action of Pawnee Bill..."
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, I beg your pardon. You don't need to read any Wild West novels. You are too busy providing the plots. They write them about men like you."
Intrigued, he squawks, "Do they?"
"The determined cowboy and the hardened gunslinger. I always thought they were abysmally contrived. And yet here you are - Cheyenne Luke!"
Love your spunk, Jennifer. Keep it up!
Secondly, I'm impressed that the women of the West were certainly not forgotten as worthy heroes in these action-packed, outrageously fictitious and immensely popular novels of the Wild West. The exhibit, as you can see above, includes pictures of the covers of the tales of Hurricane Nell ('queen of the saddle and lasso' no less, only hope she can saddle up pronto and leave behind those dark clouds heading her way) and Mountain Kate (who seems to be getting rather friendly with a bear). The artwork is so evocative of the action aplenty to be had on the pages inside! Those dime novel publishers sure knew how to put a good cover on a book. Funnily enough, these novels are kind of like the antithesis of the male version which featured the sappy damsel in distress type of heroine whose need of saving was great and often timely, and that brings me to my third point.
If I may quote from the exhibit itself, I just love this anecdote about Wild West legend Buffalo Bill:
"The famed Buffalo Bill, upon seeing a dime-novel cover of himself slaying 5 Indians with one hand while clutching a grateful maiden in the other hand, laconically observed, I've got no recollection of ever doing that."
In case you'd like to know more (and I do recommend it):
Good link here on Dime Novel Heroines and how they evolved (including a chapter on Hurricane Nell you just won't believe):
See other amazing covers at:
Browse a few chapters:
Uncover a bit of history:
They were definitely not the real West, but the dime novel certainly became a feature of its reality and gave birth to the genre we call Western.