Monday, June 20, 2011
"Confessions of a Wandering Man" by Louis L'Amour
This book, by one of America's most prolific authors, was first published in 1989. This is my third time reading it. Louis L'Amour is best known for his paperback Western novels, which can be found on any ship at sea, or on any military base in the world. They are easily read, packed with excitement, and the good guy always wins. I never liked them much, picking them up only when nothing else was available to read. Still, the author himself was intriquing to me. He had, apparently, done all of the things he wrote about in his books. That really interested me. The idea that his fiction was part fact made me very interested in the man himself.
Not just a writer of Western novels, Mr. L'Amour also wrote short stories and some poetry and non-fiction. His memoir is one of my all time favorites. In it he recounts most of his adventures as a seaman, rodeo rider, and hobo. There is even a fascinating section on the difference betwen hobo's, tramps and bums.
At age 17 he was in Singapore while his high school class was holding graduation in Jamestown, North Dakota. The education which Mr. L'Amour received aboard ship, in lieu of high school, was to prove more valuable to him than any classroom could have ever been.
This book was reprinted in 2008 and contains some new photographs not seen before. They offer even more insight into the world of the author. The list of books and plays that he read while traveling, also give the reader a unique perspective on what influenced Mr. L'Amour's own writing, beyond his travel experiences.
But, the most important lesson impatred by the author in this memoir is that education is available everywhere, everyday, in some form. All you have to do is reach out for it and it can be yours.