Letter: Once upon a time, there was this cowboy . . .

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Sir: Bill Bryson ('How the West was not won', 2 July) is following a well-rutted trail by debunking 'the Western' and the exercise will have as much impact as a thesis setting out to prove that fairy tales are not real. For that is what 'the Western' is: America's fairy tale. All the basic ingredients are there: clearly defined heroes and villains, simplicity, brevity, sensationalism, strongly drawn moral climax and a happy-ever-

after ending, all taking place in a setting that never existed.

Westerns also meet the other important criterion of the established fairy tale: universality. Most countries with a film industry have produced their own 'Western' films.

The Western is a fairy tale in a never-never land. Its readers and viewers know it. Mr Bryson's 'revelations' are undeniably interesting but, Jumping Jehosophat, the waddy is throwing his lead at a target that's already got more holes in it than a trail-

cook's colander.

Yours faithfully,


Heanor, Derbyshire

2 July

(Photograph omitted)