JM Snyder’s A Cowboy’s Heart
a review by Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk
In a reading of JM Snyder’s A Cowboy’s Heart I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with another fine novel I recently read, Victor Banis’s Lola Dances, both taking place in the old West of the 1800s, and each having a major character, a female under the clothes who is actually a male in disguise. Snyder’s and Banis’s characters, both excellently drawn, stand up in a world that wouldn’t understand what they were doing, perhaps even seeing it as nothing but sick, deranged, or demonic possession but certainly not kinky, as we call it nowadays. Yet the idea of crossdressing is an ancient one, even Hercules was made to wear women’s clothes, though it doesn’t say whether he liked it or not, Athena, Achilles and other heroic personalities all participated in crossdressing, taking a chance at living their lives to the fullest, experiencing womanhood. Is that what it takes, a change in clothes, from pants to a dress? Perhaps…
In her charming novella, A Cowboy’s Heart, JM Snyder catches the mood of a western ranch house as assorted characters get ready for a Friday night in town. Tommy, a ranch hand goes off with the other ranch boys as they try to get him laid. Tommy is scarred and frightened but really he isn’t interested, he wants to get closer to Hal, an older ranch hand he likes. In the town bar Tommy is tricked into spending time with Lila, a barroom gal with a difference, she is really a guy underneath. Tommy is instantly aroused and drawn to her and they make love. Still, Tommy is torn between liking Lila and his attraction to the manly Hal.
What a fine novel, extremely satisfying in a world of self-deception. In a way reading these two works, JM Snyder and Victor Banis, I couldn’t help but think that each compliments the other, both having similar characters, crossdressers, and the young men who are so easily attracted to and aroused by the oddness of feminine appearance, each standing with their tongues out. But sometimes that’s all it takes, a change of clothes and getting your makeup on right, eh, girls? Plus a bit of kohl on the side...
An excellent reading of both, I highly recommend it!