Gutenberg dates “Hopalong Cassidy” by Clarence E. Mulford, at 1910, but Wikipedia says that Mulford created the character in 1904, and that Hopalong, a rough-riding thug, starred in numerous short stories and novels before eventually becoming a cleaned-up, straight-shooting film, comic book, and television sensation in the middle of the century. My dad mentioned Hopalong Cassidy from time to time, in passing, not really thinking about it, the same way you might mention, say, Thundercats to your kids, except that this was before the era of the franchise revival, so Thundercats probably would mean more to your kids than Hopalong Cassidy did to me. But ah well. That’s not the point. I’m pretty sure my dad’s Hopalong Cassidy was the 1950s family-friendly version, not the version from this book. But who knows? Maybe he had the book laying around. From 1910 to 1955 (when my dad was ten) was only 45 years — and I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find books from 45 years ago at, say, the library, or a yard sale, or something.
But that’s also not the point.
The point is this mind-expanding paragraph of purpleness from early in the book.
In this red setting was stuck a town which we will call Eagle, the riffle which caught all the dregs of passing humanity, where men danced as souls were freed. Unmapped, known only to those who had visited it, it reared its flimsy buildings in the face of God and rioted day and night with no thought of reckoning; mad, insane with hellishness unlimited.
It. Reared. Its. Flimsy. Buildings. In. The. Face. Of. God!
Can you dig it?
Which. We. Will. Call. Eagle! Not that that’s its name or anything. But we will call it that! Because indirection for no real purpose is lovely and dramatic!
Men. Danced. As. Souls. Were. Freed! Motherfucker! I can see them now! Can’t you see them?
One of the characters in my WiP is an immortal who rode with Theodore Roosevelt. I’m hoping that I can get his/her (long story) diction and timing somewhere close to this bizarrely great prose.