Fascinating story about the fight in Earp history-writing ("How the West Was Spun," Tony Ortega, December 24), but we have to settle this.
As I read I also concluded that Glenn Boyer was not to be taken seriously. But the day after, I began to judge all the issues and I flip-flopped. Boyer has admitted that he is an entertainer first and history buff second. And he gave us his motive, which is easy--he wants to sell books. Would you buy an Earp book whose author admitted fictional sources in the forward?
I demand as a critic that all the principals shake and make up. Boyer can keep writing in his style and the others can keep doing serious history and citing Boyer where appropriate and telling readers where Boyer takes license. We don't need this fight in Arizona in front of the literary world.
Honestly, can you fault Boyer because he wanted success and chose this method? Any author knows that eventually any historical account would be tested by somebody if it is wildly successful. All Boyer wanted was to sell enough books before history caught up with him. He knew it would happen.
I predict that eventually Boyer will release all his material and everybody will be satisfied. Wyatt Earp would have wanted it that way. Hell, Wyatt Earp was in all kinds of ventures himself to make it as an entrepreneur.
N. Terebey Jr.
I must commend New Times on the well-written piece by Tony Ortega in the December 24 issue. Finally some exposure to the ever-increasing fraudulence of the Earp legend.
I must correct one small flaw in the article, however. The Flashman Papers are in fact the fictional documents that George MacDonald Fraser referenced in the introduction to his works to lend a sense of verisimilitude to his seminal novels. Fraser used The Flashman Papers in the manner that Robert E. Howard quoted A History of the Hyborian Age and H.P. Lovecraft utilized The Necronomicon in their stories: as invented tomes that eased the reader into a state of suspension of disbelief.
Tony Ortega responds: Boyer only recently began to claim that he should not be taken seriously as an Earp researcher. Only after numerous problems were found in his books, which suggested that Boyer had turned Earp family rumors into primary source material, did he begin saying he was a storyteller, not a historian. Before he began making such pronouncements last year, he demanded that he be considered the preeminent Earp expert, telling one publication that writing about Wyatt Earp without mentioning Boyer would be like writing about the Catholic Church without mentioning the Pope. Also, Boyer never said his book Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta was "fiction" and therefore was not to be taken seriously. He said he had written it in the form of a "nonfiction novel" and intended that it be taken as the most truthful account of Tombstone's famous gunfight. Only later did Boyer admit that he had invented its main character out of whole cloth.
Oh, and I had used The Flashman Papers merely as shorthand for Fraser's Flashman series, which many people do.
Everyone's a Critic
I always enjoy your end of the year music critics' choices ("Critical Mess," December 24). I agree with a lot the choices this year--PJ Harvey, Elliott Smith, Garbage, Lauryn Hill--and as in prior years, your list gives me the chance to discover new and unique music (at least new and unique to me) and the chance to call the big stores--Tower, Zia, Borders, and Virgin--only to hear some clerk say that they and their store's computer never heard of some CD you've deemed to be one of the very best of the year.
This year's seemingly obscure request is Quasi's Featuring Birds, which appears to be available, currently, only over the Internet (last years was Elliott Smith's Either/Or, which I ended up ordering directly from "Kill Rock Stars" since it didn't start appearing in the stores until about the time Elliott Smith appeared on the Academy Awards).
Of course, I do think there are some glaring omissions, which is really the reason I've decided I needed to write: Liz Phair's Whitechocolatespaceegg is my choice as the biggest omission. Also, I thought someone might just slip in Tori Amos' From the Choirgirl Hotel, if anything, for sentimental reasons.
Conspiring to Inspire
I was just preparing to write something nasty (but true) about Mormon Mo Udall's fake environmental legacy (Wonk, December 24). Imagine, calling a man who built six coal plants in the four corners region, a.k.a. Black Mesa, and the Navajo Generating Station and the CAP "a great environmentalist."
Then I planned to work feverishly into this diatribe something nice about the Southwest Center, defenders of "something sacred," and finish off this masterpiece with a comment on the lie, which is the founding of the West, (like it was lost).
But, then it hit me, an epiphany of sorts. Harry Reems, Sheriff Joe, PETA, NASA, Tyson Foods, Don Bolles. Wow daddy! It all adds up ("The Devil's in the Details," December 24)!
Laughter, friends and lots of beer make the current state of humanity almost bearable. Almost. Thanks for the "devilishly fun" interlude.
David C. Brainerd
I laughed in spite of myself when I saw your crazy page of "conspiratorial" celebrities, but I still can't stand your making fun of the death of Ruby the Elephant. (Or the cat-killings.)
Ruby with her paintings brought great joy to so many people, and she died a painful and tragic death. She was one of the truly special things about the Valley of the Sun. Now she's gone, and her baby died, too. That's not funny, and anyone who thinks it is is sick. Have your fun without dragging Ruby into it!
Editor's note: Should we take this as a green light to continue having fun with Don Bolles?
Same Old Youngtown
Please do not publish my name for fear that my parents, who live in Youngtown, may be the recipients of retaliation. I read your story on the Lindseys ("Scourge of Youngtown," T.G. Sterling, December 24), and there but for the grace of God go my parents. A lot of the residents of Youngtown are on fixed incomes and social security. I really feel for Al and Letha.
This situation is nothing short of criminal, and it's the government and its agents of Youngtown that are committing the crime! What is this all coming to? Couldn't the police officer and the town officials just cut this poor fellow some slack? This really is another black mark against the town. These sound like Gestapo tactics to me! When it comes time for me to retire, I'll look elsewhere, thank you.
Name withheld by request
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