THINGS TO DO NOW WE CAN’T GO TO THE PUB:
A TOP FIVE LIST TO END ALL TOP FIVE LISTS
Brought to you by the flock…
Like all beer makers, sellers and drinkers it’s been a swift kick in the guts to see our favourite bars, pubs and restaurants shut up shop while we batten down the hatches to see this thing out.
To get us through to the other side, our flock began an epic email thread of our ‘Top 5 Things We Like Now We Can’t Go To The Pub’, turning up some results that were too good not to share. So stay home, give your money to local businesses and treat that brain of yours to some reprieve with this journey of more than one mention of Cormac McCarthy, self-care tips, hair-raising Olympic achievements and random shit our Brewer Minsik likes. And more. Much much more.
We’ll share two lists a week (because let’s face it, things don’t like they’re going to change anytime soon…) and start up a good old table of contents for your reading pleasure just here somewhere.
Without further ado…
LIST ONE: The Rattlesnake’s Top 5 Western Novels That Will Make You Want To Saddle Up A Caballo And Head Into The Wilderness To Isolate And Become A Vaquero, Whether There’s A Pandemic Or Not.
My first ever toy as a child was a flexible billy the kid, and I’ve had a soft spot for the west ever since. I really enjoy the sense of adventure in these books, and the conflict of reading about great Native American warriors, who are eventually bet into submission by war and plagues brought on by whites. The best thing about these books is they’re all long as hell, so it’ll be next Christmas by the time you get through em all. In these times of isolation, I couldn’t recommend the kindle paperwhite enough. It holds 8000 books, and it’s waterproof, so you can read in the shower. Still waiting on that waterproof cigarette, however. Get one here:
1: Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
This is the book that really reignited the flame, not only for horseback adventure, but the western genre in general. If you do decide to pick this up, I’ll warn you, it’s bleak. Real fucking bleak. It makes what’s going on now look like a spring frolic. It follows a main character, referred to only as “the kid” who joins a band of scalp hunters known as the Glanton Gang on the U.S/Mexico borderlands in the 1850’s, who are actually based on a gang of that era. There’s also Judge Holden, my favourite book character of all time, who almost seems supernatural (I’m not convinced he isn’t).
2: The Lonesome Dove Series (Larry McMurty)
This is a hell of a lot more accessible than Blood Meridian and is comprised of 4 books (Dead Man’s Walk, Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove, and Streets of Loredo). It follows the story of two young boys, Augusts McCrae and Woodrow Call, who end up joining the Texas Rangers. There’s also chapters from the viewpoint of the side characters, including the famous Comanche war chief Buffalo Hump, legendary Comanche horse thief Kicking Wolf, the Kickapoo tracker Famous Shoes, and The Black Vaquero, Ahumado. Each book sees all of the characters age (and die) accordingly . Full of love, loss, learning and adventure, it’s damn near impossible to put down.
3: The Border Trilogy (Cormac McCarthy)
Made up of 3 books (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain), The Border Trilogy follows a 16 year old named John Grady Cole, a horse rancher who’s grandfather passes away and has the ranch sold out from underneath him. Instead of moving into town to look for work like so many in that era, Cole sets out into the unsettled lands of Mexico to try and find work as a cowboy. Another series that follows a character from adolescence to old age, this bares none of the harsh depictions McCarthy was so well known for, and actually netted him the National Book Award. I think he also stopped consuming lots of whiskey at this time, which may or may not have anything to do with it.
4: A Congregation of Jackals (S. Craig Zahler)
Alright, time to get bleak again. S. Craig Zahler is the amazing mind behind the screenplay for 2015’s outstandingly brutal “Bone Tomahawk”, and if you’ve seen it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. A congregation of Jackals is the story of a retired gang of bank robbers, all gone their seperate ways and living various lives, some keen on peace, other revenge. Basically a telegram turns up inviting all the old gang to turn up to the wedding of a former partner in crime. He’s found God, and believes all should be forgiven. Not everyone see’s it that way, and surprise, surprise, god’s nowhere to be found when the shit hits the fan. Crown of 9 inch nails for the bride, anyone?
5: No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy)
Incase it’s not painfully obvious, I’ve got a real hard-on for McCarthy’s writing, and this book is no exception. More a Neo Western as opposed to the old border tales, this book is so goddamn good, the Cohen brothers turned it into an AMAZING movie (starring Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem). It’s one of those rare cases where the novel and the movie are one in the same, with pages from the novel lifted seamlessly onto the screen, the characters coming to life before my very eyes. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a solid and read the book FIRST.
I’m also a really big fan of Tiph’s idea with the food pairing (see List Two coming soon), but all of these novels are usually paired with whiskey and cigarettes, so.
READ LIST TWO: Tiph’s Top 5 Streaming TV Shows + Food Pairing Recipes….