WILD TIMES by Brian Garfield


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This long, exuberant ""memoir"" by Hugh Cardiff, the champion rifle shot of the world, may remind some of Little Big Man. And Garfield's prose has a plain, gritty crackle that many readers will find even more likable than Berger's dense style. It's 1922, and old Hugh is tired of the penny-dreadful figure of himself that has been created by the press--he wants to give us the straight facts. As a youth he witnessed his father's murder by a young Confederate corporal who was in turn killed by the dying father. Young Hugh, accused of the corporal's death, becomes a fugitive at twelve, and he lights out from Kentucky for the Mississippi and the prairies beyond. In Arizona, the boy becomes a hand on the Tyree Grant, is educated by the Tyree family, and is taught trick shooting by the family grandfather. Young Vern Tyree is Hugh's age and becomes very nearly as good a crack shot, and his jealousy of Hugh's marksmanship is the backbone of the plot. Returning from the War, Vern finds Hugh and sister Libby bathing in a stream. Vern tries to kill him, but his rifle backfires, nearly blinding him. Hugh is cast forth by the family but carries his love for Libby through their various marriages until they both are at last free to marry decades later. Meanwhile, in Denver, Hugh wins a high-stakes shooting match and makes friends with Caleb Rice and Doc Bogardus, two fantastic marksmen. And, always, Vern the vengeful is still on Hugh's trail. We follow Hugh as an actor in a Broadway ""Western,"" through his greatest shooting matches, his pursuit of Libby, their decades together as impresarios of their own Wild West show, down to the last marathon shooting match between Vern, Doc, and Hugh. A kind of endlessly plotted, western-style Waverly novel that is unwaveringly alive.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Simon & Schuster