The Shootist is a western novel written by Glendon Swarthout in the 1970’s .
The Shootist takes place in El Paso during the year of 1901. To clarify what a shootist is , it’s just another term for gunfighter . The story revolves around last gunfighter in the American West , John Bernard Books. He rides into El Paso to see a doctor and learns he is dying of cancer . Books tries to lay low while he figures out what to do with this information at a rental house with an anxiety filled widow and her punk son. Sooner rather than later though , word slips out that he is in town and that he is dying . Of course everyone wants something from him : his life story , his last name , his hair , his guns , his conversion , and his death . Books decides to use it to his advantage , instead of dying a slow , unworthy death to cancer , he will go out in one final glorious gunfight .
There is a line in this book about John Bernard Books philosophy and it goes ” I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted . I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them . ” , it’s personally my favorite line from a western . Now I’m not going to lie to y’all , this novel is depressing at times and it’s meant to be that way . You are with him as his body starts failing him and for the first time in his life having to depend on other people . It was later turned into a movie with the same name starring John Wayne , it would be John Wayne’s last movie as he also was dying of cancer at the time . Parts of the movie are word for word the same but some changes were made , most notably the ending which I won’t spoil for you . Both are excellent , with the movie being slightly more optimistic . I say check them both out .