Doc: A Sympathetic Doc Holliday

I’ve always been drawn to tales of the West with its cowboys, law and order sheriffs and marshals, cattle drives, Indians, and the perceived romance of DOC-REVISIED-HAT-C148754A1-164x250our country’s westward movement. As a child, I swaggered around in cowboy boots, fringed skirt, hat, and a pair of six-shooters. (No one got arrested or reprimanded in those days!) I was determined to own a horse one day (I did). I’ve probably seen every Western movie ever produced though have not read every pulp Western book. Recently I read Mary Doria Russell’s very fine novel Doc and was intrigued by her sympathetic treatment of his character. So much myth has grown up around Georgia-born Doc Holliday that it’s been difficult to discern what’s true and what’s not. He did have TB; he was a dentist; he was an accomplished piano player; he was a professional gambler and  swift-hand gunslinger; and he did hang out with the Earp brothers, Wyatt, Morgan, and Doc HollidayVirgil. And oh, did he smoke and drink! I would call Doria’s Doc historical fiction, a great plot based on significant research and many factual details woven into the tale. She wrote as much about Wyatt as she did about Doc and their relationship. I found it a very good read. Of course I immediately ordered the movies “Tombstone” and “Wyatt Earp” for my Netflix queue though I’d seen both when they first came out. Val Kilmer is my favorite Doc Holliday although Dennis Quaid is a close second. Both are thin, brooding, red-eyed, rarely sober, and incessantly hacking from the TB. The affliction ValKilmerwas common enough for them to be nicknamed “lungers” in those days by the other cowboys. Dennis QuaidDoc is both a Western novel and a character study. Remember the names Johnny Ringo and Bat Masterson? Dodge City, Tombstone and the Gunfight at OK Corral? They’re all part of Doc. Even if you’ve never been particularly interested in Westerns, you could very likely enjoy this one. The cowboys, living conditions, and other characters are intriguing. Try it.

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About writersandy

Writer, Gardener, Crafter
This entry was posted in Book Review, Good Reads, New Novel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Doc: A Sympathetic Doc Holliday

  1. I think all of us little girls from the old days wanted to be Annie Oakley, or ride with Roy and Dale. Sounds like an interesting book. For a good laugh and some western entertainment, I’d recommend Holmes on the Range by Petaluma author, Steve Hockensmith. It’s the first of his cowboy detective novels, and quite silly, but fun.

    • writersandy says:

      You’re right, Jeanne, and I wanted to have a horse just like Rogers’s. The Old West seemed so exciting and romantic though I’m sure it was quite harsh! Thanks for the recommendation.

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