Book Review: A Teacher

A Trail of Memories

Hey, Murdock!

Are those the Saturday comics?

Aw, Murdock, come on!  Why can’t I take a look at the comic page, too?  Yes, I’m here to talk, but…

All right.  But I get a look afterward.  Deal?


So today I thought that I would tell you about A Trail of Memories: The Quotations of Louis L’Amour.  It was compiled by his daughter, Angelique L’Amour; she’s an actress.

Wow, what a book!  It doesn’t have quotes from all of L’Amour’s books, but that would be a tall order for anyone to compile, he wrote so many!  Many of the quotes come from L’Amour’s The Walking Drum (set in twelfth century Europe),  Comstock Lode, several of his Sackett stories, a number of his Westerns, and Last of the Breed (which is a good book).

The quotes are separated under headings more than they are set under specific chapters.  Here are some examples:  Life; Opportunity; Hard Work; Family and Home; Knowledge, Education, and Learning.  And so on.  Some of the quotes don’t necessarily make sense, but that’s because they work best inside their own stories – a point Ms. L’Amour mentions in her introduction.  Others are food for thought, and still others make the reader laugh out loud.  This is one that had me laughing so hard I nearly dropped the book.  It’s from Knowledge, Education, and Learning:

“Read much?”

“Now and again.  A man alone gets hungry for some kind of communication, even if he’s not a reader.  I knew one who was snowed in one year, and when he came out with the spring thaw, he’d come so close to memorizing the Bible that he became a preacher.”

Comstock Lode 

The thing is, that probably actually happened!!!  L’Amour always finds a way to make a situation or a conversation funny at some point in his stories.  I have got to find and read Comstock Lode, if only to see where this quote fits into it!

I have to admit, though, H.M., that the most interesting part of this book is Ms. L’Amour’s introduction.  She talks about her experiences with her father growing up; how they would act out parts from his stories, how she learned to read early in her youth thanks to watching her father write, and so on.  But the really interesting thing she says is that, even when she wrote A Trail of Memories, single mothers were still writing to her father.

Why?  Now we come to the fascinating part.  These women would write to him telling him that they held up the characters in his stories to inspire their sons.  They used his characters to teach their sons how they should behave, how to be gentlemen.  They said that they used his characters as role models for their boys.

It is impossible for me to tell you how startling and moving this admission is.  I mean, is there any higher praise for a writer?  To know that there are people out there who use the characters in their story as role models for real life? 

It’s sad in some ways, Murdock.  Characters and stories were always meant to teach people.  They were to remind the world that ideals and principles should be striven for, no matter the cost or the number of falls involved in at least attempting to reach them.  Today many writers forget that.  And that is a very sad thing.

Still, A Trail of Memories is an absolute feast for any L’Amour fan, and a good way of getting new readers curious about his stories.  The Foreword and Introduction are both wonderfully illuminating (and both have the characteristic L’Amour wit), and the quotes ought to be tacked onto the walls of a room until they appear to be the walls.  So when you get the chance, I highly recommend it as a read!

Now can I have the comics’ page?

Thanks.  See you around, Murdock!




About The Mithril Guardian

I like stories.  Whether they’re on film, in song, or in print, I always remember a good story.  They remind me of paintings.  People cannot see them without learning something.  So it’s a good idea to look at a story from as many angles as possible.  I can watch the same movie a million times and still I will learn something that I did not know before.  Thoughts on the Edge of Forever is where I get to focus on what I learned from stories; what was not obvious the first time, the second time, or the umpteenth time. Earlier posts are written in the form of letters, usually to specific characters, to point out what I saw in a particular story or heard in a piece of music. Some of those letters, though, are like letters to the editor. Why did someone write a story this way and not another? Would the story have turned out better if the writer had done something different? These ‘letters to the editor’ will probably never be answered by the writers - the characters certainly will not answer anything - but their contents are still up for debate. After all, unless you ask a question, you will never get an answer. Still, civil ground rules apply. Any foul language or other form of abuse will not be tolerated in Thoughts on the Edge of Forever. I mean, who wants to be around the guest at the dinner party who is being nasty? Practically nobody, since people go to a party to have fun, not to hang around a grouch. So let’s have fun! The Mithril Guardian
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