A Bad Book With A Terrible Title

I'm about forty percent of the way through what may just be the worst book ever written. It's not just ridiculous; it's also horrifyingly racist and contains the single most horrible thing I've ever read. It purports to be the true story of a fifteen year old boy who becomes Kit Carson's protege and spends the next thirty years hunting, trapping and committing genocide in the old west.

Saddled with the super long name of Thirty-One Years on the Plains and in the Mountains; or, Last Voice from the Plains. An Authentic Record of a Life Time of Hunting, Trapping, Scouting and Indian Fighting in the Far West. By Capt. William F. Drannan, Who Went on the Plains When Fifteen Years Old. Copiously Illustrated by H.S. DeLay. And Many Reproductions from Photographs, this book was written by William F. Drannan and published in 1900, more than fifty years after the events in the book that begin these wild tales.

Will is a tenderfoot of fifteen, hating his home life, around the time the gold rush begins. He runs away from home, not to hunt for gold, but because he can't stand his life. He is mostly illiterate and ill mannered and also hot headed. He ends up with a family that almost starves to death before he is taken under Kit Carson's wing, where he learns all the manly arts like killing, skinning, drinking and scouting. (But he never learns that women are people - he is more terrified of "ladies" than he is of the most dire danger.)

His tales of his shenanigans are outrageous (and sometimes vile). He can run fifty miles per day, he slaughters Native Americans by the busload, he outruns a herd of buffalo, he is the greatest tracker ever born. At one point he breaks his shoulder in two pieces and then rides for miles the next morning. I find that strains my credulity more than if he claimed he shifted into a sheep every two weeks.

While the book is billed as nonfiction it certainly reads like fiction. Exploits are larger than life, Will meets famous person after famous person, and everything is grandiose. Interestingly his style reminds me a little of Robert E. Howard's mountain man character Breckenridge Elkins, whose tall tales of western derring do are hilarious and extremely entertaining. (Or at least they were to me when I was a teen, I can't say if they would stand the test of time.) So I was intrigued to read that Mr. Howard met Will in a small town hawking his books. Did he get some inspiration from Will's claims? It's possible but I don't know how likely. In a letter to H. P. Lovecraft Mr. Howard describes the encounter thusly "...I saw wandering about the streets of Mineral Wells, twenty years ago, trying to sell the pitiful, illiterate book of his life of magnificent adventure and high courage...". Illiterate is certainly an interesting word choice for a book.

According to my Kindle Fire I'm thirty eight percent of the way through this book. That's as far as I'm going to go, but not because the book is illiterate. I can handle bad writing but I can't take any more descriptions of murdering people while they sleep, scalping them and stealing their belongings. It makes me sick and dizzy.

If you decide you want to give it a try you can get the ebook for free at several places, including Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Thirty-One-Mountains-Authentic-Trapping-ebook/dp/B...

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from one of my favorite tumblrs, which is focused on tattoos. The tattoo itself made me laugh, and not in a mocking way. http://fyeahtattoos.com/post/37426845279/two-of-my-favorite-things-forev...