Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, April 12, 2013


Six-Gun in Cheek by Bill Pronzini (1997)

Hoppin' Horned Jibblenippers! *   Bill Pronzini will turn 70 this Saturday!  That calls for a celebration!  And a few exclamation points!!!

To help the celebration, I suggest that we take a fond look at that "plethora of flapdoodle" ** that is Six-Gun in Cheek, Pronzini's loving look at some of the alternative classics of the western story.  After producing two books detailing some of the worst, sloppiest, hastiest, and/or tongue in cheek writing in crime fiction (Gun in Cheek, 1982, and Son of Gun in Cheek, 1987), Pronzini bowed to pressure to do the same for the western genre.

Some examples:

  • Some sixth sense, which he preferred to call a hunch, warned him that there was a gentleman of dubious color buried in the wood pile which they wanted him to saw. -- Archie Jocelyn
  • There was a long pause in the [verbal] sparring.  One thing for sure was in every mind on that street.  Tom Courtland was a talking man.  And he didn't just talk words.  He talked thoughts.  And his thoughts were well worth thinking about no matter in whose head they were. -- John Fonville
  • "On yore laigs, buzzard!" he threw out.  "Bust the breeze outa hyar onless you crave lead-pizenin'!" -- somebody hiding behind the name "Tex McLeod"
  • "There's no mistake?  You're certain?" "I was there.  I saw it only minutes after it happened." --"Lee Davis Willoughby"
  • "Yes," he hmmmed - "Kelly P. Gast"
And this classic, whoever-heard-of-political-correctness line of Apache dialogue:
  • "Keep um heap still, Sumpter!  Pull um mitt out o' them papers.  You might have shoot-iron cached in thar!" -- Walter A.Tompkins
Pulps, cheap paperback lines, sexy adult westerns, British westerns...all are fodder for Pronzini's mill and are gloriously skewered in this wonderful book.

By the way, the book is subtitled An Affectionate Guide to the "Worst" in Western Fiction.

Highly recommended.

* the title of Chapter 3
** the title of Chapter 7


Host Patti Abbott has the links to more of today's Forgotten Books, including (I'm sure) more tributes to Bill Pronzini.  Head on over to Pattinase, yar varmit!


  1. Hilarious stiff Jerry - I've only ever perused the first two volumes so great to have some of the choice samples to guffaw over - some amazing writing really ...

  2. GUN IN CHEEK and SIX-GUN IN CHEEK are two of my favorite books. Pronzini supplies these hilarious writing gaffs with good humor and wit.

  3. I did this one, as well, some time back...but I suspect with less panache (or with a plethora of flapdoodle, as is my wont, and Albert Alligator notes I should make it my won't).

    FFB (& M): Bill Pronzini: Sixgun in Cheek/Fairport Convention

    for that matter, did you check this out?
    This American Wife