Cover image for The last shootist
The last shootist
Swarthout, Miles Hood, author.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 2014.
Physical Description:
350 pages ; 22 cm
Young Gillom Rogers has just given the coup de grace to a famous gunfighter involved in a bloody saloon shootout in 1901 El Paso, Texas. After swiping J.B. Books's matched Remington pistols off his body, Gillom thinks he may be able to ride this spectacle to fame and glory as the last shootist. But Gillom is an eighteen-year-old with lots of growing up to do, and showing off his new pistols quickly gets him into a gunfight he didn't bargain for.
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."

"The sequel to Glendon Swarthout's classic Western The shootist."--Cover.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
FICTION Adult Fiction Western

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Young Gillom Rogers has just given the coup de grace to a famous gunfighter involved in a bloody saloon shootout in 1901 El Paso, Texas. After swiping J.B. Books's matched Remington pistols off his body, Gillom thinks he may be able to ride this spectacle to fame and glory as the last shootist . But Gillom is an eighteen-year-old with lots of growing up to do, and showing off his new pistols quickly gets him into a gunfight he didn't bargain for.

Gillom sets out for adventure, determined to become a shootist like his hero, John Bernard Books. On his dangerous journey into manhood, he runs into yellow journalists, a New Mexican horse breaker, and a train robber. When he meets a Hispanic saloon dancer named Anel in the booming copper mining town of Bisbee, Arizona, Gillom Rogers is forced to reconsider what kind of man he really wants to be.

Miles Swarthout's The Last Shootist is the sequel to one of the most famous Westerns ever written, and concludes the tale of a junior shootist's coming-of-age in a dazzling gunfight in a deadly pimp's whorehouse, as a trio of fiery teenagers ride hard into a new twentieth century.

Author Notes

MILES SWARTHOUT is the son of bestselling novelist Glendon Swarthout , who wrote the original classic Western, The Shootist . Miles Swarthout adapted that novel for what became John Wayne's final film. Miles's novel The Sergeant's Lady won a Spur Award for Best First Novel from the Western Writers of America in 2004. He resides in Playa del Rey.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Swarthout does a fine job with the sequel to The Shootist, his father Glendon's famous western (from which the even more famous John Wayne movie was adapted). Miles uses the last scene of his father's novel as his first scene, in which the shootist with cancer, J. B. Books, engineers his own quick death at the hands of El Paso's worst gunmen. Not quite dead, he begs young Gillom Rogers to finish the job in exchange for his fancy, hair-triggered Remington pistols. There was something lurid and troubling about the elder Swarthout's involvement of a teenager in this scheme; it was too easy and undercut Books' attempt at dying nobly. Maybe that was the point. Anyhow, Miles Swarthout stays in character with Gillom: he's an impetuous, not-entirely-honest young man who, despite everyone's best advice, is drawn to the gunfighter's life. And Books' famous guns draw gunfighters to Gillom. He says goodbye to his long-suffering mother and makes his way in various New Mexico towns, trying his hand as a bank guard and a horse thief, holing up for a while at a sort of robbers' roost high in the mountains. Along the way, Swarthout shows a deft hand with research: from El Paso's famed alligators in the fountain to the workings of copper mines. He knows firearms and locomotives, and, a rarity in westerns, writes rather well about sex. With another movie from a Glendon Swarthout novel, The Homesman, due out soon, The Last Shootist can't miss.--Mort, John Copyright 2014 Booklist



One One thing he knew for a fact: he had to get these pistols hidden quick or his mother might kill him, too. They were much too valuable to flash around town. Sweet bearded Jesus! He now possessed J. B. Books's matched Remingtons! Gillom Rogers slowed his walk, wondering where he would get a double-holster rig to house these legendary nickel-plated Remington .44s. Or should he have a silk vest made like Books's, with leather holster pockets sewn on either side of the chest, angled forty-five degrees inward for a cross-handed draw? Too late to get J. B.'s own now. That special weapons vest was all shot up and bloody on his corpse. Books was too heavy to clothe Gillom's skinny frame anyway. If I can just learn to handle these pistols as well as Mr. Books did, quick draw, spinning tricks, a sharpshooter, I can become as famous a shootist as that old man was! With a little gambler's luck, if nobody fills me fulla lead, makes me look like a colander. Famous and feared. "Hey, kid! Kid! Wait up!" Gillom halted in El Paso Street and stepped back from the steel trolley tracks to turn to see who was hulloing. Shading his eyes against an afternoon sun, he squinted at the hullabaloo stirring around the Constantinople saloon, spectators shouting, hurrying in and out of the opened front doors. A spindle-shanked fellow in a striped suit and derby hat galloped out of the crowd and waved at Gillom. "Dan Dobkins! Daily Herald!" Gillom Rogers nodded as the young journalist caught his breath. "You interviewed Mister Books at our house." "Well, almost. Before that cranky old bastard booted me out." Dobkins pointed at one of the shiny revolvers Gillom held. "His pistol?" Gillom straightened, displaying a nickel-plated Remington in either hand. "J. B. Books himself gave 'em to me the moment before he died." Dobkins couldn't resist running an index finger along the five-and-a-half-inch sightless barrel of the made-to-order Remington. "You stole 'em off a dead man." "I did not ! It was our deal. If I told Cobb, Pulford, and Serrano over in Juarez to meet Mister Books in the Connie today at four, when the shooting was over, Mister Books said I could have these specials." Dan Dobkins only had about ten years on this callow youth, but he surveyed the teenager with a cynical eye. "So you took 'em off a dead man?" Gillom reddened. " No! He asked me to finish him off. Hell, he was all shot up anyway, almost dead. So I pried this loaded pistol from his fingers and did what he asked." Dobkins's mouth fell open. " You issued the coup de grâce?" "The what?" "Executed him?" "Yup." Gillom Rogers raised his narrow chin defiantly, risked twirling the revolver in his right hand by its finger guard, just once. The star reporter of the El Paso Daily Herald noticed bystanders halting to overhear. He grabbed the teenager by the shoulder, turned him round, and marched them both toward the swinging doors of the Pass of the North's best-known saloon, the Gem. "Let's get a drink. I'll make you famous, kid, but I need your whole story." Opened in the fall of 1885, the Gem Theatre was a full-service establishment with a restaurant and saloon in front and its gaming rooms moved upstairs by order of a reformist town council. A stage at one end of the barroom hosted variety musical shows with singers and dancing girls, sometimes even dog fights and boxing matches, which were heavily bet. "My name's not kid. It's Gillom Rogers." "Fine. But hide those guns, Gillom, or somebody will shoot you to steal 'em." Gillom stuck the Remingtons carefully under the waistband of his woolen trousers, covered by his light wool coat. Dobkins steered him into one of the red leather wine booths in a back corner. " Two beers, Jimmy! McGintys!" Pulling a small notebook and pencil from his coat pocket, the ace reporter got right down to business. "So at J. B. Books's behest, you summoned Jay Cobb, Jack Pulford, and that Mex, what was his name?" "Serrano. El Tuerto. Cross-Eye, they called him. He was one bad bandido from Juarez." "So why were all three of these gunslingers summoned to the Connie today?" "'Cause they were all good with guns. Mister Books was dying of cancer and expected one of those gunmen would save him the trouble of doing himself in." " Cancer? Books?" "Yup. Doc Hostetler told him he didn't have much time to live. That's why my ma let him stay on in our bottom guest room even after all our other boarders fled, after those two jaspers tried to shoot him in bed earlier this week. He had nowhere else to go." Dobkins chewed his pencil. "Fits. I did hear a rumor Books was dying, but after what he did to me..." The journalist made a face at the sour memory of the great gunman booting him ignominiously in the ass off Mrs. Rogers's front porch. The rotund barkeep put one huge mug of warm beer in front of Mr. Dobkins, but he gave the young customer the fisheye. "Kid's too young to drink in here, Dan." The reporter shook his head. "Not today he isn't, Jimmy. This is the young man who just killed John Bernard Books." The barkeep gave Gillom a long stare. "On the house then. For helpin' rid El Paso of our last pistolero ." Jimmy left to go draw another beer. Dobkins slid his stein of ale across the table to young Rogers, who grinned as he sucked it down. The teenager found killing worked up a thirst. Dan gave him a smile oily enough to grease a locomotive. "Okay, Gillom, who shot who first?" "Well, most of the blood had been spilled by the time I snuck in there. Books had shot 'em all--Cobb, Pulford, that Mex, and some other joker I don't even know. All the hard cases he invited to his funeral." Gillom gulped more beer as Jimmy approached with another huge mug, named after the McGinty Band, El Paso's famous musical drinking society. The journalist's eyes drifted to the ceiling. "Invitation to a funeral ... or, or, a gunfight. What a headline.... Or the title of a book..." Gillom nodded, remembering. "Yeah, the gunsmoke and pistol fire echoing off those tile floors burned my nostrils and deadened my hearing. Heavy..." Dobkins nodded, transported. "A vibrating mantle ... of death. Like something out of Poe." Gillom slugged his beer. "Who?" "Edgar Allan Poe. Dissipated Baltimore poet you might like." "Listen, Dan," said Gillom. "It's after five. I gotta get home for supper." The reporter snapped out of his wonderment. "Me, too. Gotta see if that photographer's gettin' those death photos. Crucial with a headline. So Books actually asked you to shoot him?" "He was bleedin', wounded bad, dyin' anyway. Whispered 'kill ... me.' So I blessed him with a bullet." Dan Dobkins listened transfixed. "A bullet's blessing ..." Gillom's chair scraped as he got up, remembered his manners. "Thanks for the beer." Dobkins hastily rose, too. "Sure, kid, uh, Gillom. Gonna make you famous. Tomorrow's paper." They shook hands a little awkwardly under the circumstances. "Thanks, Dan. Maybe this'll lead to a good job. Something exciting involving firearms is what I fancy." "Finish your schooling first. You're a game young man, Gillom Rogers. More education, you'll go far." "Already on my way, thanks just the same." With a spring in his step, Gillom was off, checking the weighty guns in his waistband as he bounced through the Gem's swinging front doors. Dan Dobkins smiled as he dropped four bits on the table, leaving an uncharacteristically decent tip. Headline story this hot might make him famous, too. Copyright © 2014 by Miles Swarthout Excerpted from The Last Shootist by Miles Swarthout All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.