Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jory -- Milton Bass

Long years ago, I read Jory in (I think) a Fawcett paperback edition. The other day, I happened to see it in a Signet edition, along with two sequels I hadn't read, Mistr Jory and Sherrf Jory. (Those spellings are as they appear on the books. I guess Bass was an early texting pioneer.) For some reason, I bought the books. When I got home, I looked on the Internet and discovered that there was a fourth, Gunfighter Jory, and I figured I'd get a copy of that, too, until I saw this. I figured maybe I didn't need it, after all, but a little searching finally led me to a copy for two bucks, so I ordered it. Then I re-read Jory.

It wasn't as I'd remembered it. Well, that's not entirely true. I just remembered some parts better than others. Jory's a kid, only around 15, whose mother is dead and whose father's a drunk. When someone kills his father, Jory gets revenge. Then he leaves town.

He joins a group of men who are taking a herd of horses to a big ranch for a man named Barron. By the time they arrive, Jory has become The Fastest Gun Alive.

This is a coming-of-age book, and obviously Bass was aiming for a more literary approach than the usual western. Jory dreams a lot, has fevers, and barfs all the time. At the end [SPOILER ALERT], he lights out for the territory, having grown up a little but not enough to accept the responsibilities offered to him. In each of the succeeding books, he learns a little more.

For some reason, I liked this book. I can't explain it, but I went right on and read the next two, which I'll report on eventually. For some reason, I've never read any of Bass's Benny Freedman p.i. novels.

Robbie Benson starred in the movie version of Jory, which I've never seen.


  1. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Bill, a heard of horses?

  2. The movie must be a winner. B.J. Thomas is listed as playing "Jocko". All his other movie credits are "song performer".

    It might be interesting if it could be seen.

  3. In the novel, Jocko is the trick shooter who teaches Jory all his moves. It would indeed be interesting to see Thomas's gun handling.

  4. Darren Mitchell5:36 PM

    When I was a child, twelve years old or younger, I joined the Western Book Club, or Wild West Book Club, or something like that. Anyway, it was basically BOMC with a Western theme. The introductory offer was something like five books for a dime. One of the books I orderd was Jory, in hardback, because the cover showed a holster and gun around the word Jory. I vividly remember a scene at the lake involving Barron's daughter, whose body Jory was hired to guard.

  5. There are a couple of scenes like that in each book. I wonder if JORY was the first "adult western."

  6. Brian Garfield's "Sliphammer" and "Gun Down" had sexually explicit scenes. They were published in 1970 and 1971, respectively. I always considered them sort of the forerunners of the adult Westerns (Brian Garfield might disagree, for perfectly valid reasons). Did they or "Jory" arrive first?

    Milton Bass published a book review or reviews from which Gold Medal pulled quotes for the covers of the Matt Helm books in the old days. Bass said something to the effect that Helm "shows Jimmy Bond up for the London fop he is."

  7. I think JORY's from 1969.

  8. I first read "Jory" when I was 22 and loved it. Recently obtained all four books in the series AND the movie. Enjoyed them all over again... at age 66!

  9. Good stuff, and I enjoyed them all again at about the same age.