If Maddox wrote a Western…
Before I start this review, I have to give the fair warning that this book has several adult themes including overt violence and sex scenes, as well as racism and misogyny. If you feel that you are uncomfortable with this, please check out another review on the site.
I was doing my weekly browsing through the Barnes and Noble when I found this book, and I simply could not believe it. I thought that it was impossible, but I had found an absolute rarity among literature. I had found a romance novel written by a man!
But I would be a little let down when I looked at the interior cover and learned that it was a satire of romances and westerns instead of a full blown romance novel. But baby steps male novelists, we will eventually reach the point where we can write romance novels without criticism. I know I am overreacting with men writing romance novels, but this is actually a good thing. A large majority of romance and harlequin novels are written by females. Don’t believe me? Go to your bookstore of choice and try to find a romance novel written by a man. You will be let down.
Ross Patterson’s At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed is a fictitious autobiography about a man named Saint James Street James and his life in the west during mid 1800’s before he decides to end his life by bullet to the head and it is everything that you would expect from a romance/western satire written by a man. There is explicit sex, violence, dynamite montages, racism, low brow humor and enough drug use to make anyone who is politically correct cringe and faint. But truth be told, that is a good thing. In a good satire, you have to show the humorous side of what you are basing the satire off of and the old American west was like that. There was explicit violence, sex and racism and Ross Patterson takes it and weaves a story that will make anyone’s voice deeper. Let’s take a look, shall we?
About the Author and Book
Ross Patterson is what I can consider to be an interesting individual to say the least. Born in Atlanta Georgia, he has made a career as an actor and writer of underground cult movies focused on unconventional satire such as $50K and a Call Girl: A Love Story, FDR: American Badass!, and his most recent cinematic venture Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves. Just reading these titles in my head makes me think that I am going to Hell for this. He also leads his own production company known as Street Justice Films where he has worked along with the likes of Danny Trejo and Kevin Sorbo.
If you want his professional biography, I suggest going to IMDB. If you read his Amazon bio, it will leave you scratching your head. Here is his Amazon bio in its full extent.
Who the shit am I? A Lover. A fighter. A door-to-door used sweater salesman. I’m that dude who doesn’t pull out with strangers, especially on vacation. And I’ve been to Cozumel. That’s in Mexico. If you feel jealous after reading that, you should be. Mexico is awesome. The coke there is like eating four burrito supremes at once, you kind just shit yourself on impact. Other than that, it’s so rad. But that’s me, you know? Hardcore. I once babysat a kid who just graduated college. I’m trustworthy, but I’ll still go through your medicine cabinet. I’ll watch you sleep for weeks on end outside your house, just because I can. I’ll give your dog a Snickers bar if I feel like “he’s not being himself”. This is who I am. This is my life. If this is too hot for you, rewire all the electrical outlets inside your kitchen.
At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed published by Regan Arts Publishing, would be Ross Patterson’s first attempt at writing literature and so far has been considered a hilarious read and a ‘work of genius’ by reviewers on Amazon.
The Story of Saint James Street James
The story as aforementioned is a fictitious autobiography about a man named Saint James Street James who had became so rich that he had managed to live to the age of 186 years old and is writing his memoirs of his long life from 1849 to 2015 in a Manhattan bar before he kills himself via bullet to the head.
His story begins when he becomes ‘the richest man in town’ through his gold mine operated by a lone Chinese immigrant who would later be called Samantha Davis (Don’t worry. Samantha is a guy). After several years of fornication and drinking, he realizes that another family, known as the Schläger Brothers have bought up all of the other gold mines in the area. The story would follow Saint James Street James as he goes to war against the Schläger Brothers, regains his stolen wealth and tries to protect his family.
What I like about this story is that every action has its consequences. The main character engages in sexual deviancy and killing people for touching him, and it comes back to haunt him later in the book. One of the best examples of this would be seen with his conflict with the Schläger Brothers. After killing two of them in a bar, they kill his son (named Totally Fucking Mexico) by dipping him in his own gold. In the story, there is a subplot between the main character and a cross-dressing romani woman and at times, it felt shoehorned in. The story would end on a bittersweet note that allows the author the opportunity to write another sequel to the story, which after reading this from front to back, I would want to see what happens next.
While the characters in this story are fleshed out, they still are based on traditional tropes that are found in romance novels and westerns.
- Saint James Street James – The protagonist/anti-hero and the main character, I can only describe him as an asshole, but a likable asshole. He drinks any alcohol within reach, screws any woman despite being married, often racist and will kill someone for saying the wrong thing. Though to say that he goes through the novel without some remorse or changed perspectives would be a lie. As his story goes on, he shows a sense of respect and appreciation towards other characters such as Sam the Chinese immigrant and Curly the funeral parlor owner. In his mind, he feels that his actions are justifiable despite how violent they can be and with that, builds the character up over the book.
- Louretta – An Irish American woman and Saint James’ wife, she is an interesting character. While she is alright at times with Saint James’ constant sexual encounters, she still cares for him and tolerates his behavior to an extent with some exceptions. While she is not the typical damsel in distress, she does give herself to Saint James without question. She is a strong woman and caring mother who isn’t afraid to tell it as it is.
- Daniel – Saint James’ favorite son. I have to say that his personality reflects the traditional west as he is often vengeful, a master with his pistols, and resisting of the changing times. Despite having to deal with his father’s actions, he still cares enough for his father to put his life at risk for him. With Daniel’s presence, it actually creates a nice balance between him and Saint James, as well as a father-son bond.
- Mayor Van Buren and Schläger Brothers/US Government – The Antagonists of the novel which would represent the progression of the American west from the time of Cowboys and Indians to the more controlled and refined west. These characters have done everything from buying up Saint James’ town to killing his family. While portions of their presence in the story was fleshed out to give them a background, they still felt like the generic villains that are found in most westerns. It would have been nice if the characters (especially Van Buren) were more fleshed out.
- Samantha (Sam) Davis – The Chinese Immigrant who works faithfully for Saint James despite how badly Saint James treats him. His character is a reflection of how badly the Chinese Immigrants were treated in the west as they were seen as nothing but an expendable workforce.
- Manny and the Indians – Manny and the rest of the Indians in this story act as some of the few friends Saint James admits to having and would later help him in his fight with the Schläger Brothers and the US Government. While these characters are fleshed out during their time in the story, they fell to the Native American stereotypes that are all too common in some westerns.
The Writing Style/Book Design
Ross Patterson’s story is well written with its story and writing style, but it is not without it’s one or two flaws. The largest problem that I had with the story is that Saint James Street James would try to make modern popular culture references in the story that felt out of place with the overall story such as when the main character notices Sam taking a photograph of his food or Louretta saying the phrase ‘You only live once’ and Saint James comments that he hopes it does not catch on.
With each of the chapters in the book, comes an illustration to accompany it (drawn by Tim McDonagh, Richard Ljoenes, and Daniel Lagin) which I have to say, are well drawn and are incorporated into the story well. Some of them are safe for work while others are not, so fair warning if you read this in the office.
It is easy for me to say that Ross Patterson’s At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed is clearly not for everyone. But for the people who want to read one of the most politically incorrect novels of 2015, I would have to recommend this, no questions asked. It is easy to see that Ross Patterson has brought his impeccable sense of satire in this novel and it translate well. I would want to see how far he will go with his novels and what his next controversial work will be.
Ross Patterson’s website can be found here, where you can find all of his previous and current cinematic work. But again, Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.