One of the century’s most enduring American writers, Zane Grey left a legacy to our national consciousness that far outstrips the literary contribution of his often predictable plots and recurring themes. How did Grey capture the attention of millions of readers and promote the Western fantasy that continues to occupy many of the world’s leisure hours? This study assesses the Zane Grey phenomenon by examining Grey’s romantic novels in the context of his life and era.
Grey, whose roots were in Zanesville, Ohio, was the son of a dentist and practiced dentistry himself in his early adulthood. He threw over that life for one of adventure, traveling throughout the world in search of excitement, a course that ultimately led him to become one of America’s most popular authors. But he also was dogged by depression and inertia that affected his ability and will to work.
In Zane Grey: Romancing the West, author Stephen J. May traces the career of Grey by analyzing the development of his novels and popularity and the degree to which that shaped his world.
The book also investigates Grey’s personal life—from his fling with Hollywood to his passion for deep-sea fishing—illuminating the literature that shaped America’s vision of itself through one of its most enduring and cherished myths.