Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys
CBC BOOKS WORKS OF CANADIAN FICTION TO READ IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2023
THE TORONTO STAR 'MUST READ, HANDS DOWN BEST BOOKS OF 2023 SO FAR'
‘Cat Person’ meets Station Eleven in this apocalyptic depiction of toxic masculinity.
An unnamed man is spending the evening with his ex-girlfriend. She’s obsessed with the 1956 John Wayne classic The Searchers, and she recounts the story as a way for them to talk about their histories, their families, maybe even their relationship. But as he gets more drunk and belligerent, she gets more and more uncomfortable with him being in her home.
And then, two days later, a mysterious catastrophic event befalls Toronto, and our protagonist must trek across the city to find Melanie. His quest spirals into increasing violence, bloodshed, and hallucinations as he moves west through the confusion and chaos of the city.
Using the tropes of both the Western and the disaster movie, Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys looks at the violence of our contemporary masculinity, and its deep roots in shaping our culture. A suspenseful and thought-provoking evocation of our current moment.
"Ask the right questions and a conversation about the movies becomes a conversation about your life, family, past, and everything you value: Aaron Tucker’s novel, which starts chatty before turning deeply, unexpectedly inward, grasps the ceaseless, sometimes terrible relevance of violence and troubling art." – Naben Ruthnum, author of A Hero of Our Time
"In Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys, Aaron Tucker refuses the easy projections of masculinity from film history. Instead he gallops into the screen to sift out how drama collaborates with the bloodiest of truths. That this novel shifts from dialogical treatise into a thriller proves that Tucker is well on his way to stealing the weird fiction mantle away from Don DeLillo." – Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes and Little Threats
"Sad, smart, innocent and wise. A relentless retelling of a movie and a life, full of hope, if there is any." – John Haskell, author of The Complete Ballet: A Fictional Essay in Five Acts
"This story is as sensational as it is compelling. It would be unreasonable to say that a book complicating our ideas about masculinity could, or should, be art for its own sake. Still, it is never protesting or lecturing. You won’t be able to put it down." – Sarah Marie, The Miramichi Reader
"In the book, Tucker exhumes and examines the racial politics of “The Searchers” in a way that feels organic to his central situation; he gives the film its due in shaping (and perhaps warping) the perspective of global audiences towards Indigenous characters while suggesting this disfigurement is part of a larger tradition of mythification that’s even more pervasive than Ford’s spacious widescreen frames." – Adam Nayman, The Toronto Star
"Tucker writes about the power of film to creep into our collective consciousness with expressive accuracy, and his apocalyptic vision of the last cowboy warns that as archetypes intersect with a toxic ideology, it can only lead to a cretinous kind of irrelevance." – Jean Marc Ah-Sen, Quill & Quire
"Tucker's exploration of violence, masculinity, and storytelling is layered, wise, and timely. Examining the themes and tropes—as well as the racism and misogyny—of the iconic movie at its core, Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys is both propulsive and impressive…" – Open Book
"As an author, Tucker excels at conveying baroque, evocative detail — from the sprawling desert buttes of Monument Valley, to Toronto’s gritty Downtown East, to the depraved fantasies of a psyche in collapse." – John Nyman, CAROUSEL Magazine