Why is Miles in particular worth reading here? In part, there's the delicious opening paragraph, and in part, there's his effective articulation of the lasting cultural importance of early 20th century cowboy novelists (regardless of their skill). Here's the heart of that argument:
Grey was a profoundly bad writer who combined mawkish sentimentality with geographic fabulism. (Exception: Grey's fishing essays are largely devoid of the pinched overexertion of his fiction, and are actually quite excellent.) But bad writing hardly disqualifies an author from our interest, an axiom we might call the Harriet Beecher Stowe Principle. By the thunderous force of his popularity and the potency of his mythologies, Grey had a deep and pervasive effect on the way America saw itself
Thus, Miles says, the true-life adventures that gave rise to these mythologies are of lasting interest to all of us. In Grey's case, these adventures include sexual obsessions that may not be surprising to anybody who has examined his imagery. In the case of Caroline Lockhart, I believe, the adventures will be of interest not because anybody kept a diary of her exploits in bed, but for two less-prurient, more-fundamental reasons. First, unlike Grey, she actually lived full-time in the West -- and thus had to reconcile the mythology with everyday realities. Second, unlike his overmasculinated fantasies, she experienced that West as a woman.
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