Evans, Max 1925(?)-
EVANS, Max 1925(?)-
PERSONAL: Born August 29, 1925 (some sources cite 1924 or 1926), in Ropes, TX; son of W. B. and Hazel (Swafford) Evans; married Pat James, August 4, 1949; children: Charlotte and Sheryl (twins). Education: Studied art privately.
ADDRESSES: Home—1111 Ridgecrest Dr. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108. Agent—Russell & Volkening, Inc., 551 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10017.
CAREER: Writer and artist. Began work on a cattle ranch at age twelve; worked as a cowboy, ranch owner, trapper, prospector, and mining promoter; Taos Minerals, Inc., Taos, NM, vice president, 1955-58; Solar Metals, Inc., Taos, president, 1957-59. Military service: U.S. Army; served during World War II.
AWARDS, HONORS: Commendation from City of Los Angeles; named honorary member of board of chancellors, University of Texas; Saddleman Award, Western Writers of America, 1990.
Southwest Wind (short stories), Naylor (San Antonio, TX), 1958.
Long John Dunn of Taos (biography), Westernlore (Los Angeles, CA), 1959.
The Rounders, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1960.
The Hi Lo Country, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1961, reprinted, Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Three Short Novels: The Great Wedding, The One-Eyed Sky, My Pardner, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1963 (My Pardner reprinted separately, 1972).
Mountain of Gold, Berg (Dunwoody, GA), 1965.
Shadow of Thunder, Swallow Press (Chicago, IL), 1967.
Sam Peckinpah: Master of Violence, Dakota Press (Vermillion, SD), 1972.
Bobby Jack Smith: You Dirty Coward, Nash Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1974.
The White Shadow, Joyce Press (San Diego, CA), 1977.
Xavier's Folly and Other Stories, Zia (Castlerock, CO), 1984.
Super Bull and Other True Escapades, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1989.
Rounders 3, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.
Film Director Sam Peckinpah: Madman and Genius (film script), 1991.
Bluefeather Fellini, University Press of Colorado (Boulder, CO), 1993.
Bluefeather Fellini in the Sacred Realm, University Press of Colorado (Boulder, CO), 1994.
Spinning Sun, Grinning Moon: Novellas, Red Crane Books (Santa Fe, NM), 1995.
This Chosen Place: Finding Shangri-La on the 4UR, University Press of Colorado (Boulder, CO), 1997.
Hi Lo to Hollywood! A Max Evans Reader, Texas Tech University Press (Lubbock, TX), 1998.
Faraway Blue, Forge (New York, NY), 1999.
Madam Millie: Bordellos from Silver City to Ketchikan, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2002.
(Editor, with Candy Moulton) Hot Biscuits: Eighteen Stories by Women and Men of the Ranching West, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2002.
Contributor to anthologies, including Three West: Conversations with Vardis Fisher, Max Evans and Michael Straight, by John R. Milton, Dakota Press (Vermillion, SD), 1970; The Pick of the Roundup, edited by Stephen Payne, Avon (New York, NY), 1963; Rivers to Cross, edited by William R. Cox, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1966; The Far Side of the Storm, San Marcos Press (Cerrillos, NM), 1975; and The New Frontier, edited by Joe R. Lansdale, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989. Contributor to screenplays. Contributor of over sixty articles to periodicals, including Field and Stream, Empire, and Contact.
A collection of Evans's manuscripts is housed at the University of Texas—El Paso.
ADAPTATIONS: The Rounders was filmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, starring Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford; the book was also adapted for a television series by American Broadcasting Companies in 1966. The Hi Lo Country was adapted for a screenplay featuring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup, and Patricia Arquette, released by Gramercy Pictures. Rounders 3 was also adapted as a screenplay, directed by Stephen Friers and produced by Martin Scorsese. Film rights to Mountain of Gold have also been sold. An abridged edition of Hi Lo to Hollywood! A Max Evans Reader has been recorded as an audio book.
SIDELIGHTS: Max Evans's western novels and short stories are informed by his own years of experience as a ranch hand, rodeo cowboy, and miner. He also made his living for nine years as an artist, selling over 300 oil paintings in his career. Evans's first publication was a short story in the Denver Post magazine, and his first book, Southwest Wind, was a collection of short stories. According to C. L. Sonnischsen, a contributor to Twentieth-Century Western Writers, the vignettes in Southwest Wind "probe the dark corners of this little universe" and are "full of life and human feeling and insight."
While working on his second book—Long John Dunn of Taos, a biography of a western adventurer—Evans lost a large sum of money on a mining venture. He decided to write a novel to try to raise the cash he needed. The result was The Rounders, a contemporary western about two cowboys, both chronic losers, defeated by society. The book is a humorous read, but several critics noted that it would be an error to classify it as simple comedy. Traditionally, the individual is the winner in western fiction; in making his protagonists failures, Evans was making a statement. "They are so funny," Sonnischsen wrote of Evans's protagonists, "but our laughter is at cracked ribs, broken teeth, the frustrations of bachelor life in a lonely line camp, wicked horses hoping to kill their riders, wild debauches when the lonely men come to town. Evans's home country is full of danger, pain, and violence, and that country, as he sees it, is a metaphor for the world." The Rounders was made into a very successful film, starring Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford, and it led Evans to do more scriptwriting in Hollywood.
Some of his books, such as Bobby Jack Smith, You Dirty Coward and My Pardner, are simple examples of "bawdy country humor," in the opinion of Sonnischsen; but Evans's writing after 1963 became "increasingly symbolic, violent, and tragic." The critic summarized: "Evans is a philosopher and teacher as well as a keen observer and this is the lesson he wants to teach: the dependence of every living thing on the earth from which it came, and the interdependence of all the lives involved. . . . Man is not alone, and neither is he independent."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Milton, John R., Three West: Conversations with Vardis Fisher, Max Evans, Michael Straight, Dakota Press (Vermillion, SD), 1970.
Twentieth-Century Western Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.
Bloomsbury Review, September, 1998, review of Rounders 3, p. 17.
Booklist, January 1, 1999, Budd Arthur, review of Faraway Blue, p. 831.
Choice, March, 1970, p. 74.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1972, p. 537; December 1, 1998, review of Faraway Blue, p. 1695.
Library Journal, November 1, 1974, p. 2871.
New York Times Book Review, September 8, 1974, p. 43; December 29, 1974, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, August 15, 1966, p. 66; February 24, 1969, p. 65; November 2, 1998, review of Hi Lo to Hollywood! A Max Evans Reader, p. 67; November 30, 1998, review of Faraway Blue, p. 52.
Reference and Research Book News, May, 1998, review of Rounders 3, p. 173.
Roundup, August, 1998, review of Rounders 3, p. 30; April, 1999, review of Faraway Blue and Hi Lo to Hollywood!, p. 33.
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, July, 2001, Russell Goodyear, review of Hi Lo to Hollywood!, p. 183.*