The Dead Pool is Filling Fast

Posted: July 1, 2017 in General Topics of Interest
Where is my John Wayne
Where is my prairie song
Where is my happy ending
Where have all the cowboys gone?
–Paula Cole, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone, This Fire.


The Real Man Dead Pool is filling fast. The hero archetype in novels is dying of testicular divestiture.

Remember those authors who filled their pages with testosterone instead of chardonnay? Recall the days of whiskey-drinking, gunpowder-stained, hairy-armpit alpha males who could punch a thug in the face, fire off a quip or a cannon, and then melt a woman right down into her nylons with a wink?

In other words, remember when men in books had balls?

These are some of the many icons of masculine writing gone to that gin joint in the sky: Elmore Leonard, Louis L’Amour, Ernest Hemmingway, Donald Hamilton, John D. MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, Shell Scott, Earle Stanley Gardner, Frank Roderus, Zane Grey, Robert A. Heinlein, Mack Bolen, Richard Sapir/Warren Murphy, Elmer Kelton, Donald Westlake (as Richard Stark), Evan Hunter (as Ed McBain), Clive Cussler…well, Clive’s alive, but his fiction is a walking dead replica of his original work. And before you ask, Robert B. Parker doesn’t count, because although Spenser and Jesse Stone were tough sumbitches, they needed way too much psychoanalyzing to be true icons of the American Male Hero, Mark I, Break Glass in Case of Danger.

“But, but, but,” you say, “Lee Child!”

Yes, and do you wonder why Child has been so wildly successful writing the same damn book over-and-over (and over-and-over) for so long? Because Reacher is a take-no-shit, all-male Hero with a capital Take No Shit From Nobody. A tarnished knight worthy of Travis McGee. A ronin. Richard Boone as Paladin. The kind of hero all too rare in this day of emasculated, emotive, environmentally-aware, psychoanalyzed plastic cutout characters used in place of Real Men.

Thank God for Robert Crais (Joe Pike) and R.M. Meluch (Tour of the Merrimack), Michael Connelly (Bosch) and a few brave souls who carry on against the tide of politically correct protagonists who abhor guns and want to empower women instead of tumble them into the sack. (I would have included Stephen Hunter in this group, except for G-Man. SPOILER: The gunslinging hero in G-Man has a secret. Guess what it is? “I want to lay with men!” Oh, for fuck’s sake, Steve.)

They say men don’t read much anymore. Well, let me take a wild ass guess as to why that is. Let’s take a look at the Bestseller List. Which one? Doesn’t matter. Any Bestseller List will do.

  1. Female author, female character being treated badly by men.
  2. Any author, gay character being treated badly by men.
  3. Male author, liberal. Anti-gun polemic with a side of angst.
  4. Gender unknown. Examines feeling for 600 pages.
  5. Any author. Capitalism bad. White males bad.
  6. Harvard-educated author. Two gay male main characters whine about men.
  7. Lee Child. Same book he’s always written.
  8. James Patterson. Tripe written by a no-name hack, covered by Patterson’s name.
  9. David Baldacci. Boiled tripe, poorly written.
  10. Nora Roberts. Romance being labeled as something else.

Geh. I can’t even…It’s enough to make a man want to go write a book.

Oh. Wait. I’ll be back.


  1. My husband loves Parker’s books and he and our 18-yr-old love Brad Thor’s Scott Harvath. And then there’s Marc Cameron’s Jeriocho Quinn, Russ Hall’s Al Quinn (hey, I wonder if they’re related lol), Alan Russel’s Michael Gideon and of course there’s Abel Yeager. 😉 I think they’re out there, they’re just not being written by big name authors anymore, Brad Thor aside.

    Liked by 1 person

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