Funny men: Clive Cussler and Louis L’Amour

Western river scene

River image courtesy of kconnors on Morguefile

One of my favorite characters to have in a book is a wisecracking hero. Even when faced by the most evil of villains or the most desperate life-threatening situations, the smart-mouthed hero manages to dredge up a funny remark or two to relieve the pressure of a nasty situation.

This type of humorous hero is the main reason that I love books by authors such as adventure novelist Clive Cussler and Western author Louis L’Amour. Cussler’s books often feature a character named Dirk Pitt, a resourceful and highly capable adventurer with a fondness for aircraft, marine engineering, and antique cars. Dirk’s got a great sense of humor, especially when he’s accompanied by sidekick and best friend Al Giordino.

Cussler also writes himself into many of his books, an unusual feature that I’ve never seen with any other author. He makes a cameo appearance in the action (maybe he took lessons from Alfred Hitchcock?) to help characters that are in need of assistance. Sometimes Cussler’s identified by name; other times you just have to tell from the description that it’s him.

In the books of Louis L’Amour, the humor is drier but no less potent. I admire the Sackett family — especially the brothers Tell, Orrin and Tyrel — because they are loyal, capable and witty in a sardonic way. My all-time favorite quote, however, has to be from Sackett cousin Flagan Sackett in Galloway:

“My voice isn’t much, but I often used to tell folks I was a singer, and that I’d sung for crowds of up to three thousand. I didn’t tell them I was talking of cows, but they heard my voice and probably guessed.”

I guess the cows didn’t appreciate good singing when they heard it?

So if you’re in the mood to escape from reality, amuse yourself with books like Inca Gold, Flood Tide, Deep Six, Sackett, Treasure Mountain and The Daybreakers. They’re a great read and who knows? You may even become a convert like me.



Filed under Writing

6 responses to “Funny men: Clive Cussler and Louis L’Amour

  1. Sahara is a fave, especially the movie version with Matt McConaughey. I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. No obligation–just want to pass on Blogger Appreciation!
    Happy Pages,

  2. My grandfather loved L’Amour and I was considering picking up a copy of his work. I’m glad you said it was funny. Now I’ll be sure to read something of his. (I love wisecracking heroes, too. My favorite has to be Indiana Jones.) Can you suggest a L’Amour book for me?

    • Oh, boy, what to choose? I’d start with Ride The River, Treasure Mountain and Sackett. Ride The River features Echo Sackett as the main character and narrator; she is an aunt of Tell, Orrin and Tyrel Sackett.

  3. I grew up reading the Sackett books, and others by L’Amour, but those were my favs. Those, and The Walking Drum. I still haven’t recovered from finding out that he died before he could write the sequel. Everyone should read him, so I was thrilled to see your post!

    I don’t remember what got me started on Cussler’s books, but sometime before Sahara became a movie, I read most of the Dirk Pitt books, though I’ve never gotten into the rest of them. Sahara, the book, was quite frightening, in some ways, but I still enjoyed the movie.

    For those that love westerns, though I don’t know if there’s as much humor in them, Zane Grey is up there with L’Amour on his writing skills. Have you read him?

    I’ll agree with you on the previous recommendation. I really enjoy the female point of view in Ride the River, though again, all the Sackett books are marvelous. It’s a good place to get hooked on the author and the family, and then backtrack to Jubal and the rest.

    • I haven’t read Zane Grey, I’m sorry to say. He’s one of those authors I always mean to get around to reading one day.

      It’s a funny thing but I learned about L’Amour and Cussler through people I knew…I learned about Louis L’Amour when a friend’s parent asked me to bring some L’Amour books to him because he was having trouble finding them where he lived. I started reading them on the plane trip and got hooked. As for Cussler, a coworker of mine was always reading those books on his lunch break, so I got curious, checked one out at the library and that was it.


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