Nunslinger

Hooray, just what the Wild West genre ordered: a nun (handy with guns), an outlaw on the run, a vicious Army lieutenant, rough men, the troubled landscape of post Civil War America in 1864, an avenging, bloodthirsty Navajo woman, a railroad baron, horses, justified killings, bandits, beautiful and deadly deserts, rolling rivers…
Stark Holborn, the Pynchonesquely mysterious author of Nunslinger, has cooked up a rare and rich broth of melodrama, shocking incidents and oddly compelling characters, it has an odd steampunkish energy to it although this is no pseudo-Victorian mash-up. Originally released in installments, this 600 page book collects them all together – thank goodness, I’d hate to have to wait between chapters. It is clever, funny, sometimes moving, urgent and I just love the writing – not a word seems wasted but the images are neither stark nor minimalist.
This feels a bit like something Tarantino or the Coen Brothers might take on for the big screen, moments of beauty shattered by mayhem and violence as Sister Thomas Josephine of the Vistandine order,  accompanied by various ambiguously-motivated friends and foes scorches her way from one end of the nascent United States to the other, with a grim sojourn in Mexico.
Exciting, fresh and completely unexpected…

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