America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 12-14.


Doctorow, E. L.  Welcome to Hard Times.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960.

After his discharge from the army, E. L. Doctorow found a job as a script reader at Columbia Pictures.  After reading a great many scripts for Westerns, he became convinced that he could write a more credible and still entertaining Western.  He began with a short story, which interested him enough that he decided to develop it into a novel rather than a screenplay.  Not only was Welcome to Hard Times Doctorow’s first novel, establishing him as an important new novelist, but it was also the first of the revisionist Westerns that at first seemed an attack on the genre but ultimately revitalized it. (Often discussed with Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man, Doctorow’s novel predates Berger’s by four years.)

Welcome to Hard Times is set in a South Dakota town originally named Silver Sun.  But…

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