Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary for One Book, One Denver

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

For a city that embraces reading, Denver has never really embraced the One Book, One Denver program -- not even after last year's votingpalooza for the fifth edition, tied to a secret National Endowment for the Arts grant from the Big Read program, which resulted in the pick of To Kill a Mockingbird.

So far, I've struck out on every selection I've pushed. But I'm not giving up.

My previous suggestions: Plainsong, by Kent Haruf (too racy, according to Mayor John Hickenlooper, who made the first four picks); On the Road (too racy and a dead author, even though Jack Kerouac took much of his inspiration from his time in Denver, and the fiftieth anniversary of the seminal Beat Generation book gave a great hook); and Ask the Dust by John Fantean East High grad (too hard to find and, again, dead).

When Hick picked The Thin Man, that lifted the no-dead-authors rule. But still, I don't see Mark Twain's Roughing It -- Samuel Clemens' classic account of his trip West -- on this year's list, even though the hundredth anniversary of the author's death would give that book added oomph this year.

Instead, this year Denver readers get to choose between Annie Proulx's Fine Just the Way It Is; The Help, by Kathryn Stockett; and David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. At least Proulx lived in LoDo for a while, but I don't see essays making it. Wroblewski lives in the Denver area, and I loved the first 400 pages of his book -- but he lost my vote with the incendiary conclusion. Readers can make their pick at www.denverartsinteractive.org through June 15.

In the meantime, here's what I'm reading: Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary, the new book by Steve Friesen, who runs the Buffalo Bill Museum on Lookout Mountain. As Buffalo Bill, William Cody gave the world its first real modern celebrity, and this book says volumes about pop culture -- not just how the West was won, but how a showman pushing the myth of the West won over so much of the world a century ago.

It's been a fast slide from Buffalo Bill to Simon Cowell's World's Got Talent.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.