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Warlock (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

Oakley Hall , Robert Stone
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2007 New York Review Books Classics
Oakley Hall's legendary Warlock revisits and reworks the traditional conventions of the Western to present a raw, funny, hypnotic, ultimately devastating picture of American unreality. First published in the 1950s, at the height of the McCarthy era, Warlock is not only one of the most original and entertaining of modern American novels but a lasting contribution to American fiction.

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Warlock (New York Review Books Classics) + Butcher's Crossing (Vintage Classics) + So Long, See You Tomorrow (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; Reprint edition (1 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590171616
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590171615
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"[A] brilliant novel of the violent West." --"San Francisco Chronicle" ""San Francisco Chronicle" Book Editor Critic Oscar Villalon's Picks Oakley Hall's novel "Warlock, "reissued by the New York Review of Books. 'Excellent genre stuff. A riveting Western that's also a work of literature' " --NPR, Talk of the Nation "Also in '59 we simultaneously picked up on what I still think is among the finest of American novels, "Warlock," by Oakley Hall. We set about getting others to read it too, and for a while had a micro-cult going. Soon a number of us were talking in Warlock dialogue, a kind of thoughtful, stylized, Victorian Wild West diction."-Thomas Pynchon "Not since Walter Van Tilburg Clark's "The Oxbow Incident" has there been a novel of the West of as high a dramatic and literary quality as this one."-"Library Journal" ""Warlock" is a big novel in every sense of the word . . . Hall has earned his place above the literary salt with such as Van Tilburg Clark and Conrad Richter and A.B. Guthrie." -"San Francisco Chronicle" "Compelling . . . A powerful narrative that throbs unmistakably with the hum of a really big talent." -"Chicago Sunday Tribune" "Oakley Hall has a gift for making the historical moment immediate and concrete, pulsing and white-hot." -MacDonald Harris "Oakley Hall is among our most absorbing novelists." -"Los Angeles Times" "Oakley Hall is one of the country's finest writers." -Robert Stone "Like Henry James and Mark Twain, Oakley Hall is a master craftsman of the story. [His] dialogue is perfectly pitched, and intrigue will keep you turning the pages." -Amy Tan "Oakley Hall is a novelist who never seems to make a wrong move. His impulses for what's dramatic, for what will touch and move us, for how to engage the issues of the heart with those of the mind, all are uncommonly acute. He is a writer to read and read again." -Richard Ford "The mastery shines forth undimmed." -"S

About the Author

Oakley Hall was born in 1920 in San Diego and grew up there and in Honolulu, where his mother moved after his parents' divorce. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Hall joined the Marine Corps and was stationed in the Pacific during the Second World War. Following the war, and with the aid of the GI Bill, he continued his studies in France, Switzerland, and England, returning to the US to receive an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Hall published his first book, Murder City, in 1949 and his most recent, Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots, in 2005. In between he wrote more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels The Downhill Racers, Separations, and Warlock, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1958; a libretto for the opera based on Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose; and two guides to writing fiction. Hall was director of the writing program at the University of California, Irvine for twenty years and, in 1969, co-founded the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, an annual writers' conference. Among his many honors are lifetime achievment awards from the PEN Center USA and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Oakley Hall lives in San Francisco.

Robert Stone was born in Brooklyn in 1937. He is the author of seven novels: A Hall of Mirrors, the National Book Award–winning Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. He has also written short stories, essays, and screenplays, and published a short story collection, Bear and His Daughter, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York City and in Key West, Florida.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Old West Reconsidered 8 Dec 2010
A fictionalization of some genuine happenings in the old west, this one tells the story of events (over a relatively brief period of a few months) in a western boom town called Warlock, so named for one of the many silver mines whose output draws and sustains its disparate and often unsavory populace. Denied a town patent through the inattention of the territory's senile military governor and law enforcement by an uninterested County Sheriff who prefers the relative safety of the county seat to dealing with the bad men who plague Warlock, the town's businessmen and notables determine to take matters into their own hands. Without authorization or legal standing the citizens' committee sends for a gunfighter who has made a name for himself elsewhere as a lawman for hire. And Clay Blaisdell comes, along with his close friend, the somewhat disreputable gambler Tom Morgan. Like Wyatt Earp and his dissolute gambler buddy Doc Holliday in the real history of the old west (captured in a somewhat fictional retelling in the film Tombstone [DVD] [1993] and many other histories, novels and films), Blaisdell, Earp's proxy in this tale, soon sets about restoring order with some back up from pal Morgan. But Morgan is a strange and somewhat dark character, taking as much pleasure in being disreputable as Blaisdell seems to take in enforcing the law (even when he has no legally recognized authority to do so).

At roughly the same time as Blaisdell assumes his role of town marshal, a public spirited townsman accepts the Deputy Sheriff position in Warlock after having been shamed to see the last Deputy run out of town without a fight by a rowdy bunch of local cowboys from nearby San Pablo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warlock - Oakley Hall 19 Oct 2013
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
A big, detailed morally probing book, full of incident and action. Hall's prose lacks finesse but it does the job, and the story is wonderful. Oakley Hall is one of those quietly read American writers who deserve to have a John Williams'esque revival (others include Wallace Stegner and William Maxwell). One of the must-reads of the American canon, this.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Although you won't hear much talk about this book today, it was well thought of in its day, and they even made a movie of it with Henry Fonda. The movie is good, but this book is better. This is pretty much an existential western, our hero a man confronted with living up to a code which even he knows is phony and impossible to sustain, and those who love him trying to make it possible for someone, anyone, to live their life truly. Unfortunately, when the hero knows this is happening, conflict ensues. Well, it's a great book, a better western than The Ox-Bow Incident, with more action and a more provocative theme.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding novel - a real 'must read' 31 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's not just me that thinks it's a great novel. This book was a finalist for the prestigious Pulitzer prize in 1958. And despite having great literary credentials, it's extremely readable. I found it hard to put down and leave - but it's a decent sized book; you won't read this in one sitting.

I'd seen the film of the same name starring Richard Widmark et al, so knew the background and characters, but the book is so very much more detailed and complicated. Everyone has his or her own agenda. The marshal is determined to go by the rules, as he sees them; his friend Morgan has complete disdain for the rules. The Deputy, Gannon, is determined to hold to his integrity despite the hostility from everyone around him. The women have more of an important role here too, and are very complex, well-drawn characters. It all hangs together very well. Part of it is written as journal entries in the first person, and the rest as third party viewpoint. For someone like me with very little knowledge of US history this is an insight into how frontier towns struggled to come into existence (this novel is set in 1881). I was gutted to finish it and am reading it through again. It's worth it. This is the best book I've read in many years.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AT LAST! 1 Jun 2009
I have waited 50 years to relocate this book and thank most sincerely the New York Review Books for the re-issue. Atmosphere is one of the features of this Western novel. The likes of Wyatt Earp, Ike Clanton, the O.K. Corral, gun fights, lawlessness, Tombstone, Arizona, all come together in Warlock. You can feel it as you read on and on and on. Super stuff. I am so glad to have found the book again.
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