I'm not a huge fan of westerns, but occasionally I'm in the mood for one, and today I was in the mood.
I enjoyed Shane, but like most of the westerns I've read I found it to move at a fairly slow pace. Also like most of the westerns I've read I found the characters to be a little flat. I think, though, that the main point of westerns is to reflect the landscapes in which they are often set. Where some people look at the land and see barren, open, flat, and uninteresting landscapes, the true beauty and depth becomes apparent by just sitting in that openness and stillness for awhile. Where the characters exude a quiet calm, so do the western landscapes. Where characters are uncomplicated, so are the western landscapes. Characters' values are solid, pure, and untrampled, and that is a reflection of the solid, pure, untrampled western landscape. I don't know if westerns are necessarily plot-driven as much as land-driven. One could argue that land is what Americans value the most, and it certainly is of great value in the American west. The people who populate western stories are all about their land because their very survival, both physically and spiritually depends on it. The land is always a character in a good western book.
Shane reflects the importance of land to the inhabitants of the west, and as such, it's a solid classic western. Having been born and raised in Colorado I do love the American west, and those western landscapes fill a place in my heart that nowhere else can. I don't live there now, and sometimes I need an infusion of the west. It's good to spend time on the prairie by reading a good western book, but while books in this genre fill a certain place in my heart and help reconnect me to the place I was born, I have to admit to liking a little more pizazz in the books I read.