Seth MacFarlane (based on a screenplay by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, & Wellesley Wild)
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Random House Ballantine (US & CA: 4th March 2014); Canongate (UK: 22nd May 2014)
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It’s not that sheep farmer Albert Stark doesn’t work hard – he’s just not very good at his job. Or his life, but so far he’s managed to stay alive in the West, which is no easy task when everyone and everything want to kill you. (Don’t chance it with the doctor. You’re better off letting things be.)
The plot is very basic: Girl dumps boy; and boy tries to earn back girl…until he realises that girl isn’t really worth the effort. Especially considering there’s a mysterious new woman in town who’s willing to help Albert, instead of just criticise. His relationship with Anna is more symbolic than anything else (she gives him self-confidence), so I don’t really think they have chemistry.
The more believable and heart-warming romance is that of Albert’s best friend, Edward, and his girlfriend. Ruth’s career may seem at odds with their chaste relationship, but they really are sweet together.
The first act of the novel is fabulously fun, and the second act’s pretty good, too. At this point, I considered watching the film before it left my local cinema. But the final act just doesn’t measure up (too many excretions and trips).
I’m not one for historical fiction, but A Million Ways to Die in the West feels so contemporary that it goes down well. It’s short and entertaining, with no skim-reading required. And it’s fun!