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The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh (read my full review here) is a gritty modern western that takes a very small town of inhabitants whose memories have been erased, some suspicious-looking strangers, and guns. What could go wrong?!
This book has many of the western tropes:
A small, isolated, anachronistic community
No hope of outside help
People with sketchy pasts
We’re missing tumbleweeds, but if a couple rolled across this story, they certainly wouldn’t be out of place.
The difference in The Blinds and many other modern westerns: the line between good and evil isn’t as plainly drawn. There are definite black hats, but the white hats tend to be tarnished and grey. Who’s the hero we’re supposed to root for? It’s a lot harder to identify. Sometimes, no one.
The magic of a western isn’t its breakneck pacing. Sometimes, they’re slow and methodical. The danger brews quietly in the background, coming ever closer until it’s right on top of our characters. Don’t come here for a happy ending with hearts and unicorns.
Another great modern western is The Never Open Desert Diner by James Anderson (read my full review here).
Ben is a small-time trucker for a lonely stretch of desert land. Small-time trucking isn’t lucrative and he’s down to his last dollars. He gets mixed up in a couple of pot boiling plots; one from years ago, one happening to him in the present. Both dramas intersect in a tragic way.
Though I wouldn’t necessarily compare them to each other, both The Blinds and The Never Open Desert Diner are excellent books.
Whether you’re a fan of the western genre or not, these books are not ones to miss.