Patten, B., Lewis

Lewis B. Patten wrote more than ninety Western novels in thirty years and three of them won Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America and the author himself the Golden Saddleman Award.  Indeed, this points up the most remarkable aspect of his work: not that there is so much of it, but that so much of it is so fine.  Patten was born in Denver, Colorado, and served in the U.S. Navy 1933-1937.  He was educated at the University of Denver during the war years and became an auditor for the Colorado Department of Revenue during the 1940s.  It was in this period that he began contributing significantly to Western pulp magazines, fiction that was from the beginning fresh and unique and revealed Patten's lifelong concern with the sociological and psychological affects of group psychology on the frontier.  He became a professional writer at the time of his first novel, MASSACRE AT WHITE RIVER (1952).  The dominant theme in much of his fiction is the notion of justice, and its opposite, injustice.  In his first novel it has to do with exploitation of the Ute Indians, but as he matured as a writer he explored this theme with significant and poignant detail in small towns throughout the early West.  Crimes, such as rape or lynching, were often at the center of his stories.  When the values embodied in these small towns are examined closely, they are found to be wanting.  Conformity is always easier than taking a stand.  Yet, in Patten's view of the American West, there is usually a man or a woman who refuses to conform. 

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