The Grim Sour Wind was Howling (The Gunslinger, Ch. 1)


The apotheosis of all deserts, huge, standing to the sky for what looked like eternity in all directions. It was white and blinding and waterless and without feature save for the faint, cloudy haze of the mountains which sketched themselves on the horizon and the devil-grass which brought sweet dreams, nightmares, and death.

I met the Gunslinger in the desert, and the grim sour wind was howling, the switchgrass afire, the weathervane cricking to the west. SK paints us the bleak portrait of a sparse world, bright and cold, where bleaker men are holy men: superstitious, adaptable, and alone.

There is a oneness with the desert, a mystical bond between thirst and drought; drinking water for comfort’s sake alone is sacreligious – it must be bound-up tight in a bloating watersack.

The gunslinger had been struck by a momentary dizziness, a kind of yawing sensation that made the entire world seem ephemeral, almost a thing that could be looked through.

The opening chapter is nestled in the memory triggered by vertigo and the smell of the switchgrass burning and the cold clear night. His yet explained hunt of the man in black is contextualized by dying friends, a smaller and lighter father (a gunslinger, too, mayhap, for it’s a pair of pistols he’s remembered by), and a lost trinket.

And it is all so very cryptic, so Good, Bad, and Ugly, and oral. This is the antrhopomorphic American myth that ought be read aloud with an abrated voice and sand-grit in the parchlines of your mouth.

An occasional tombstone sign pointed the way, for once the drifted track that cut its wy through the thick crust of alkali had been a highway. Coaches and buckas had followed it. the world had moved on since then. The world had emptied.


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