Utne Blogs > Literature

Renaissance of a Real Wild West Writer

by Staff


Tags: J.P.S. Brown, Wolves at Our Door, The World in Pancho’s Eye, Arizona, Mexico, border,

J.P.S. BrownJ.P.S. Brown is a badass writer in the tradition of Hemingway and Henry Miller—talented, adventurous, and aggressively masculine. His novels evoke Cormac McCarthy: gripping tales of violence and vengeance in America’s wild, blood-soaked Southwest. But these comparisons reveal little of the man, nor do they do his writing true justice.

While McCarthy’s life is marked by academic pursuits and literary grants, Brown’s life mirrors those of his characters so closely they’re almost indistinguishable. He has been many things: itinerant caballero, movie stuntman, boxer, smuggler, soldier of fortune. And his writing reflects his experiences.

“Brown writes about the real West, not the myth,” writes Leo Banks in the Tucson Weekly. “His calling card is authenticity. When readers put down one of his books, they have dust between their teeth.”

Until recently, Brown’s books have been difficult to find; many are out of print. But this October, the University of New Mexico Press published The World in Pancho’s Eye, his memoir told through the guise of a fictional narrator. (As Brown told Banks: “I didn’t want to spend five years writing ‘I’ and ‘me.’ ”) And with another novel on the way, his first new fiction in years, there are plans to reissue some of his older works, and Brown is getting some long overdue attention.

Morgan Winters