Spud and Cochise: My Favorite Short Story

by Randy Murray on November 13, 2013

You probably haven’t heard of one of my favorite authors, Oliver La Farge. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story in 1929. But the thing that made me love him, the thing that opened up his other writings to me, was the short story “Spud and Cochise.”

It is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest short stories ever written. It’s smart, funny, and wondrous. It is filled with incredible characters, wonderful scenes, and lovely, memorable details. I first found it in an old book, “A Decade of Fantasy and Science Fiction,” published in 1960, the year of my birth. If you can get your hands on a copy, this book is filled with other incredible stories.

La Farge managed the art of the short story in such a way that he took something familiar, the Western, a cowboy story, and made it altogether new. It’s quite impossible for the reader to predict what will happen in this brief story. And he crafts the story so it ends at the perfect moment, precise and un-improvable. I turn to this story again and again to remind myself of how great writing can be. I’ve read it aloud, just to myself, just to feel the words in my mouth, to hear them fresh and new.

If a Hollywood studio, in a moment of insanity, were to ask me to direct a motion picture, this is the story that I’d pick. I think that I’d cast Robert Duvall as Spud.

You can read this story online here: Spud and Cochise. And here’s more on La Farge.

Spud and Cochise: My Favorite Short Story by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Leave a Comment

Previous post: