Carisa Sullivan's Reviews > Doc

Doc by Mary Doria Russell
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Jun 01, 12

Read in January, 2011

I'm not generally drawn to westerns but I always want to read anything Mary Doria Russell writes. Her historical characters which are always woven through amazing storytelling reveal little known facets of their personality and lives and they literally walk off the page. Her treatment of John Henry Holliday and the Wyatt brothers is a compelling exploration of the man behind the hype of the OK Corral. She does not gloss over his characteristics as a gambler, alchoholic, or his lack of impulse control but she makes these seem like characteristics that are components of a larger more complex individual; one who experienced a very intellectual upbringing, became a Dentist, and battled tuberculosis most his life.

There is no account of the OK Corral which personifies Doc Holliday to many people. This is likely intentional as the reader gets more of a sense of how fragile he is physically vs. the exterior he presents to the world. John Henry Holliday began dying before he did much living. His diagnosed tuberculosis was a constant reminder that he better get to the good parts of his life soon. Perhaps because of this, he didn't waste words, or his time placating bullies, rather his loyalty to friends, and quick witted yet sometimes humourous observations made him someone who did the best with the hand he was dealt in life.
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