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The Good Old Boys

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  545 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Hewey Calloway has a problem. In his West Texas home of 1906, the land and the way of life that he loves are changing too quickly for his taste.Hewey dreams of freedom - he wants only to be a footloose horseback cowboy, endlessly wandering the open range. But the open range of his childhood is slowly disappearing: land is being parceled out, and barbed-wire fences are spri ...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published January 1st 1985 by Texas Christian University Press (first published March 12th 1982)
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Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The truth inside stories is what makes them good, in any genre, and I think Kelton did a wonderful job with this book. Close to his own heart, and based in part on his own family and experiences, Kelton's story of the Calloways is one of the best westerns I've ever read. (The movie of the same name with Tommy Lee Jones and Sissy Spacek was very good, too, and stays quite true to the book.) There aren't a lot of unexpected plot twists or blazing shoot-outs, no lovely rancher daughters in distress ...more
Anthony Whitt
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kelton does it again. When he's on his game, he's a hard author to top. Ranks up there with "The Time it Never Rained" and "The Day the Cowboys Quit." You don't need to be a fan of the western genre to appreciate his storytelling talents that expand beyond the typical.
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kelton's story of the clash between the old and new ways is set in early 1900's west Texas, but the themes he raises are relevant today. Hewey Calloway, the old time cowpunching hero of the novel, decides to visit his brother on his farm after a winter on a New Mexico ranch. During his travels and visit, he encounters officious lawmen, barbed wire, and rules and conventions that go against his free roaming philosophy. While successfully avoiding the traps that the new ways of doing things have l ...more
Alyx Tschirhart
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book..
This book was heartbreaking to me. Without including major spoilers, I will tell you I absolutely loved this book. And going into the final chapter or two, it was receiving 5 stars from me.
Again Kelton wins at character development and the little details. And George Guidall narrating on the audiobook, you have a perfect reading storm.

And the plot twists and turns will keep you on your toes and remind you that with a Kelton book, never try to predict an ending!

Must read. Although, plea
Nov 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
One of the men this book is dedicated to was very special to me during my childhood. He made a big impact on my life. During the drought of the 1950s, my Daddy left to go work in the oil patch leaving my Mom at home with 3 little girls. Raymond Glasscock stopped by every day to check to be sure we were all OK.
Mr. Kelton worked with him on the McElroy ranch....
I picked up my copy at one of Mr. Kelton's book signings held at the Cactus Bookstore in San Angelo, TX.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
I haven't read nearly enough of Elmer Kelton's books yet, though I look forward to working on that deficit. He's billed as a Western author, but so far the books of his that I've read are really fantastic character studies about people who happen to live in the Old West, or just thereafter. Kelton doesn't go in for the shoot-em-ups. I can't recall a single shot being fired in The Good Old Boys. This is the story about a cowboy watching his way of life dying out, seeing his brother take to the pl ...more
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

Billed as western authored, this novel by Elmer Kelton is certainly set in that world but in the early 1900s - long past the cowboy heyday. I was reminded strongly of Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy by the nostalgic style and emphasis on strong characterisation over action. We follow a cowboy, Hewey Calloway, coming home to West Texas after years away to find his brother's smallholding practically bankrupt and his eldest nephew more interested
Rodney Haydon
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read a book at just the right time for it to be most impactful. This is my time for this book.
When Hewey speaks to Eve about them still belonging to the old century, I can understand that now in a way I wouldn't have been able to if I had read this when it came out in 1978. It is much more personal, and much more powerful with the current change in one's surroundings, in one's country, in one's own self.

But if I had read it then, I would still have found this to be a great story, w
Brad Lyerla
My former father in law has impeccable taste in books. He persuaded me to try Elmer Kelton, an acknowledged master of the American western. THE GOOD OLD BOYS is Kelton's attempt at a humorous novel.

A footloose cowboy is forced to settle down for a season and act with unaccustomed responsibility to bring in the crops and save his brother's ranch in 1906 west Texas. I bet you can guess whether he manages to pull it off.

Part of the fun is the predictability and this book is fun. But it's not my thi
Wallace Kaufman
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not your cowboy movie West but the West that lies beneath and still shapes the culture and politics and economics of today's Texas. Also a damn readable story about a character who is larger than most life, but well within the boundaries of real people.
Emma Jane
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! Just as much as the movie -- maybe even better.
Mary Lou
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only Kelton book made into a movie. I often wonder why, perhaps because there is not enough sex and violence for hollywood in the true to life stories written by this very talented author.
50 States and At Least 50 Authors 2017 Reading Challenge. TEXAS.

Hewey Calloway is part of a dying breed; his nephew is desperate to be part of the future. The year is 1906 and cowboys who wandered an open range from Mexico to Canada are all but gone; there are fences everywhere. Automobiles are showing up even in places like Midland, Texas. Yes, some predict that this fad will soon die out, but Cotton Calloway doesn't believe that. He wants to build things, fix things, operate machines, etc. Wil
David Leone
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elmer Kelton has been added to my favorite authors list. I had heard of him before and probably read something by him a long time ago but after reading Good Old Boys I plan on reading more of his books soon. His way with dialogue is very natural, I thought. And the book is funny but not simply a comic novel. Kelton is dealing with a serious topic which is relevant today: the transition caused by technology from one way of life to another.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book for me was as good as "The Time It Never Rained" by ElmerKelton. I was born and raised in west Texas so I could relate to these books. Hewey Calloway a character in The Good Old Boys reminded me of men I've known. Mr. Kelton's description of the environment in this book was accurate and the time setting was real. Mr. Kelton is one of my favorite authors.
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book about west Texas ranch life in 1906 is a classic. Kelton's well-written descriptions of the fundamentals of windmilling, bronc busting, & farming in Upton County are all just part of the grand tale he's telling, woven together with humor, plenty of cowboy logic, and even romance. This story is rich with history, but never boring. Even though I have seen the movie that Tommy Lee Jones produced and starred in based on this book, I was still on the edge of my seat as I listened. The n ...more
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The western genre is not in my usual eclectic group of genres. However, in looking for an audiobook, I decided to give this a try. Right up to the last chapter--no, right up to the last paragraph (which I did not know was the last paragraph because this was an audiobook), this was pretty much a five-star book and I was going to read more of Kelton's books (even though reviews said this had more humor than others by Kelton and that was one factor I loved about this book and I doubted whether I wo ...more
Nov 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2010
Pretty entertaining western with enough humor and enjoyable characters for it to work.
(Funny how one ends up having to go from Texas to Finland to find a Texas Western... joys of bookcrossing)

I did enjoy the characters and the story, and figured it would make a good movie too so no surprise it's been made as a movie too. Many of the characters are pretty timeless too so they could easily be transplanted to the world 100 years later, fighting against all the other type of changes, running and esc
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of Elmer Kelton until about a month ago when he died at age 90. There was a long write up about him in the Dallas Sunday newspaper by a TCU professor. The afterword in this book was written by U of Texas professor.
The Western Writers Association voted him the best western writer of all time. But this book had no violence except one fistfight. (compare to the Sopranos) None of the major characters carried guns.

This book is very funny, although I'm sure not intended as comedy. I
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sentimental book about the life in West Texas at the turn of the 20th Century... written from stories the author's father told him as the elder was recovering from a stroke. It's about a man to whom freedom means everything, even more than love. And about a woman who recognizes if she married the guy, he wouldn't be the same person.

Things are might up to date in San Angelo. I’ll be you they’ve got half a dozen automobiles around there by now.

Eve frowned. “San Angelo’s a big place. I’ve heard
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great cowboy story from a West Texas literary legand. If you're looking for some crazy Hollywood-esque tale of bank robbers and rustlers, this is NOT your book. But if you want a realistic portrayal of cowboy life at a pivotal point in the history of this area, and no doubt there are similar stories in other late frontier areas of the West, you will enjoy this book. Since it is based on stories told to the author by people who lived and breathed this life, it is very realistic. Being from West T ...more
Lauren Smith
My very first western, chosen for a reading challenge where two participants get each other to read a genre the one enjoys and the other avoids. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, other than an encounter with the lone ranger archetype, easily defined good guys and bad guys, and quirky language I'd come across in the movies. This turned out to be pretty accurate. Hewey Calloway, a classic commitment-phobic, freedom-loving cowboy returns to his brother Walter’s home to visit the family he’s be ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, western
I really liked The Good Old Boys a story about Hewey Calloway--one of the last (albeit fictional) real life honest to goodness cowboy's. I liked how the author caught the attitude of a free roaming cowboy and the differences between them, ranchers and farmers. I like how Hewey's way of life collided with the industrial age. It's hard for a man to change when two such different worlds come together. the story is Hewey's struggle to decide if he should remain a cowboy--one of "the good old boys"-- ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the the second of the three novels in Kelton's turn of the 20th century trilogy about footloose itinerant cowboy Hewie Calloway. Unfortunately, I read the third novel, The Smiling Country first. I would have enjoyed both these books much more had I read them in the proper chronological order and watched Hewie age from his wild youth to his (for a cowboy) old age, coping with modernity and the increasing demands of society for conformity. Knowing what was in store for Hewie in book 3 det ...more
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first excursion into Elmer Kelton's work. I am usually a reader of Louis L'Amour westerns, so this was a change of pace foe me. I entered it unbiased as I have yet to see the movie based on the book. Overall, it was a good book.

I only gave it four stars because at times it got long in the tooth and bogged down. But after working through these areas, it picked up. The characters and setting we so believable you can picture them in your mind.

I would recommend this to most anyone. And
R Fontaine
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine it, A 253 page Western set in 1906 Texas with only one busted nose and one broken leg the sum total of all violence.
This is an outstanding novel and no need to narrow the accolade by calling it 'simply a western'.This is wonderful storytelling: humorous and serious all at once, without a trite or hackneyed description of West Texas on the verge of transition in the whole novel.
The Good Old Boys is not only for those who love Westerns. It's humor alone make it much more: storytelling is f
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: western lovers
The author's prose is well crafted, but I felt like I knew where the plot was going at each turn. A man's romance novel. If you like westerns, you will love this book. Otherwise, it is an okay read. A side note, I started out with the audio version of this book (multitasking at work). The actor reads the story well (interesting interpretation of female voices...) but could he make the pauses any longer! Over 9 hours of audio files to read a 300 page paperback...

Jeff Dickison
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a great story of the old west meeting the 20th century. Hewey Calloway has never met a part of the country he doesn't like, but he wants to go home to see his family. However, his fiddle-footed ways make it hard for him to stay, even when he falls in love with the new school marm. Highly recommended.
Kalub D Duggins
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well written book

Extremely well written book

This book takes you back to another time where it seems that life was simpler. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to look back and how times have changed. there are many like lessons in this book that makes me remember have life used to be.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little slow-moving, doesn't have the good conflict plot that I've loved in a couple of Kelton's other westerns,. Rather, it's more of an internal character conflict than an action conflict, but still an excellent story.
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Elmer Kelton (1926-2009) was award-winning author of more than forty novels, including The Time It Never Rained, Other Men’s Horses, Texas Standoff and Hard Trail to Follow. He grew up on a ranch near Crane, Texas, and earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas. His first novel, Hot Iron, was published in 1956. Among his awards have been seven Spurs from Western Writers of America and ...more
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