Judy King's Reviews > Gully Town

Gully Town by G.P. Schultz
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Jul 13, 2011

it was amazing

It's a joy to read a really well-written book -- for me that's a book in a setting that radiates life peopled with characters who are alive, breathe, slog through the mud, screw up their lives, pick themselves and try again. That's the sum and substance of Gully Town: A Novel of Kansas City. I feel as if I picked up a sugar Easter egg with a peep hole and have been watching as Jack Hannon, Keven and Mary, Red and Adam find their place and help construct this city from the mud and levees and livestock and outlaws. Yep, the James Brothers, Youngers, Wild Bill, and other Robin Hoodish characters mingle with area war heroes and founders in the building and defending of Kansas City.

As these four men -- orphans, recent Irish immigrants, Texas trail rider, and soldiers seek adventure, and reward themselves in the rough and tough sports and adventures of the times, they begin to determine who they are and how to survive in the "wild (mid)west." They chasing bad guys, they are the bad guys and they advance against the Kansas Jayhawkers as Missouri establishes her position in the days surrounding the Civil War. Sporting little more than amazing strength, initiative and inspiration and raw edges, the quartet of protags are less adept and lacking in finesse when it comes to understanding and conquering the fairer set -- well, they falter when it comes to the ladies that have touched their hearts. They know quite well how to handle their relationships with the girls of the evening who drift into their lives. The author rose to the occasion on both counts, handling the feelings and emotions of the scenes with the ladies from the elegant homes on the hill, as well as the fanciful vignettes with the soiled doves of the bars on the levee -- even when Jack and Kevin spend a portion of their first Kansas City pay to take on two of the whores -- in rotation.

In fact, this author has the finesse and skill to present scenes of rapid fire action, mind-numbing rejection and loss, violent battle, and intense passion so that the reader smells, hears and sees the action before he feels it -- it's as if the reader is reveling in his own memories. It's a rare talent, indeed, one obviously honed under pressure in smokey newsrooms where complicated stories must be written on command, with a deadline to the cacophony of standard typewriters, ringing phones, shouting editors all choreographed to the tinkling beat of Linotype machines and the persistent ticking as the clock's hands move toward deadline.

After reading the author's bio, I was well prepared for him to spin a well-organized no nonsense story stocked with good solid research and packed with historical anecdotes; Schultz caught me entirely off guard when he unexpectedly began to throw very intelligent humor into the mix.

It's a shame authors are far from readers on those occasions when they could be rewarded by the sight of a reading light reluctantly dimmed in the wee hours and the sound of giggles of surprise and glee accentuated by unattractive snorts. G. P. Schultz deserves the belly laughs, the murmurs of surprise and admiration, the sudden intake of breath as the reader's new friends fall in harm's way and the unbidden tears that fall as the book's inhabitants make their way through life in fledgling Kansas City. All are richly deserved.

Mr. Schultz, Dancing with Ghosts is waiting in my Kindle...but I'm going to savor the experience of Gully Town for a week or two before I move forward a few decades with the author as ..."everything[stays]up to date in Kansas City."
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Reading Progress

July 13, 2011 – Shelved
July 15, 2011 – Started Reading
July 15, 2011 –
page 85
25.6% "Love finding historical-historical novels about areas I know -- it's even better when the writing is as crisp and gripping as this tale of early Kansas City."
July 17, 2011 –
page 220
66.27%
July 18, 2011 – Finished Reading

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