REVIEW OF SKYPILOT
June 18, 2009
A Gunslinger Fights A New Kind Of Battle
A review of:
Buddy Simmons Skypilot (Newnan, GA: Jawbone Publishing Co. 2009)
$10.00 106 pages ISBN:159094182-9
Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz
I have watched many cowboy movies in my life but I rarely ever read cowboy books.
I am glad I made an exception for Buddy Simmons' Western novella Skypilot -- if you like Western stories, you will love this one, and you will not be surprised to learn that Simmons has had many short stories published in the Louis L'Amour Magazine; and thereby hangs a tale.
Since Simmons had published these stories there and was well known to the Editor, he was planning on publishing this book there also, but was horrified to learn that the Editor had died and the company had folded. Then he himself almost died from a series of heart attacks. He finally heeded my counsel to waste no time in getting it published while he was still among the living! (I am the head of the Coweta Writers Group to which he belongs.)
Skypilot is not only an imaginative, exciting, and interesting story, it is full of Simmons' particular style of country humor. (He grew up in rural Alabama.) For instance, consider these gems. Some of the women were so ugly they probably had to sneak up on a glass to get a drink of water. This is what mountain people call Pot Luck. (Just reach in anybody's pot for the food you want; if it doesn't kill you, that's luck.)
The story is narrated by a ten year old boy who along with his widowed mother is struggling to keep the farm going when a gunfighter turned preacher comes into town and strives to help them thwart the nefarious schemes of a man trying to get his hands on their land.. Although the story does have a happy ending, the precise form of the denouement is not something you would be able to guess.
With a preacher as one of the main characters, we are not surprised to find some of the story including preaching and evangelism. But these are integral parts of the story itself; the story is not something contrived for the purpose of presenting a sermon. One can consider this story as christian fiction; in the new, positive sense which the term now has, but not in the older pejorative sense in which the term was often used.
In fact Simmons is part of the ever growing group of writers which has succeeded during the past fifteen years in giving the term the respect and the good connotation it has now acquired.
Simmons has also published at the same time another Western called Fugitive's Revenge, and he will soon be publishing a novel called Tramp: A Story of a Boy and His Dog.
Simmons is the most recent example of first time published authors joining the burgeoning literary scene in Coweta County, Georgia.
There are at least twelve more Coweta authors I know of who will soon have their first book published, so stay tuned!
A Review of: Fugitive’s Revenge
A Family Feud Among Mountain Men:
What Was It Like ??
Reviewer: Forrest W. Shultz
Buddy Simmons Fugitive's Revenge (Newnan, GA: Jawbone Publishing, 2009)
$10.00 172 pages ISBN: 159094185-3
Buddy Simmons loves writing Westerns. He used to have Western short stories published in the Louis L'Amour magazine, and he planned to have his Fugitive's Revenge novel published there, which would have been appropriate, I believe, because the story is written like a Western although it is actually about mountain men, not cowboys. The book's publication was delayed when Simmons learned to his horror that the Editor had died, which caused the publishing company to go out of business! Fortunately, in cowboy story style, a good guy (actually I should say "good gal") came to the rescue: a publisher had just moved to Newnan, where he lived, and he worked out a great deal with the owner, Swanee Ballman, who, although an Easterner, has a lot of the Western spunk and humor, like Simmons himself! So, as the saying goes, they hit it right off!
The story is about a feud between two families in a mountain community. Simmons grew up in a mountainous area of Alabama, where such feuds were common, so he knows whereof he writes. The sad thing about this feud is that neither side really wants to continue it but feels trapped by the tragic history of the feud. Simmons brings this out in a striking manner by having different chapters of the story narrated by the leaders of the two sides. In this way the reader can empathize with each. This empathy is as important to the story as the dialogue and action.
As with his Western novella Skypilot, the story does have a good ending, but not one which the reader could guess. Since both of these were published at the same time, they should be seen together as constituting Simmons' debut as a published book author and as the latest example of the burgeoning Coweta County literary arts scene. Simmons is just about finished with his third book, Tramp (a boy-and-his-dog story) which is expected to be published later this year.