Sunday, December 20, 2015

‘Real cowboy’ to receive lifetime achievement award

By Staci Matlock
New Mexico author Max Evans has won many Western literary awards.

On Saturday, he will be honored with a different kind of award, a belt buckle for lifetime achievement from the New Mexico Horse Council.

“Most of my so-called literature involves the horse in some way. Without horses, I wouldn’t be a writer,” said Evans, who lives in Albuquerque.

“It is really a thrill,” he said of the New Mexico Horse Council award.

Evans, 91, is “a real cowboy and a real horseman,” said Bonnie Bagley, a board member of the Horse Council who nominated him.

This is the first time the council’s 80 individual members and 40 represented groups have honored a Western author with the award, Bagley said. “Normally, it goes to horse trainers, 4-H folks or breeders,” she said.

This won’t be his first belt buckle. Evans won a couple in his years as a calf roper at New Mexico rodeos. “I got one in Taos decades ago,” he said. “We had a rodeo every weekend all summer long.”

Cowboying helped the young Evans pay the bills until his books started to get published. Ranchers liked him because he was a skilled “heeler,” the guy who finessed a rope around the back legs of a calf so it could be branded or tagged.

Evans said his last rodeo was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo in Española more than half a century ago. “I was 39. I came in 10th place, not much good,” he said.

By then he had already published a book of short stories called Southwest Wind and written The Rounders, one of the books that would make him known in the Western genre. The Rounders was published in 1960, followed by Hi-Lo Country in 1961. A film adaptation of Hi-Lo Country, starring Billy Crudup, Woody Harrelson, Sam Elliott, Penelope Cruz and Patricia Arquette, was filmed in New Mexico and released in 1998.

Max Evans is a wonderful writer, a great guy and a good friend. If you really want to find out about Max Evans and his adventure both horseback and a foot, and from Humble City, NM, to the halls of Hollywood, read Ol' Max Evans: The First Thousand Years written by the same Slim Randles featured in today's edition. 

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