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Seth MacFarlane's a Million Ways to Die in the West

Cover of Seth MacFarlane's a Million Ways to Die in the West

Seth MacFarlane's a Million Ways to Die in the West

A Novel

From the creator of Family Guy and director of Ted comes a hilarious first novel that reinvents the Western.

Mild-mannered sheep farmer Albert Stark is fed up with the harsh life of the American frontier, where it seems everything and anything can kill you: Duels at high noon. Barroom brawls. Poisonous snakes. Cholera-infected drinking water. Tumbleweed abrasion. Something called "toe-foot." Even a trip to the outhouse. Yes, there are a million ways to die in the wild, wild West, and Albert plans to avoid them all. Some people think that makes him a coward. Albert calls it common sense. But when his girlfriend dumps him for the most insufferable guy in town, Albert decides to fight back--even though he can't shoot, ride, or throw a punch. Fortunately, he teams up with a beautiful gunslinger who's tough enough for the both of them. Unfortunately, she's married to the biggest, meanest, most jealous badass on the frontier. Turns out Albert has just discovered a million and one ways to die in the West.

From the Hardcover edition.

From the creator of Family Guy and director of Ted comes a hilarious first novel that reinvents the Western.

Mild-mannered sheep farmer Albert Stark is fed up with the harsh life of the American frontier, where it seems everything and anything can kill you: Duels at high noon. Barroom brawls. Poisonous snakes. Cholera-infected drinking water. Tumbleweed abrasion. Something called "toe-foot." Even a trip to the outhouse. Yes, there are a million ways to die in the wild, wild West, and Albert plans to avoid them all. Some people think that makes him a coward. Albert calls it common sense. But when his girlfriend dumps him for the most insufferable guy in town, Albert decides to fight back--even though he can't shoot, ride, or throw a punch. Fortunately, he teams up with a beautiful gunslinger who's tough enough for the both of them. Unfortunately, she's married to the biggest, meanest, most jealous badass on the frontier. Turns out Albert has just discovered a million and one ways to die in the West.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1

    Albert Stark was a coward. Not a quivering, jittery, ­weak-­kneed sort of a coward, but the kind who viewed his cowardice as an act of sensibility: a coward in the name of pragmatism. To Albert, his cowardice functioned as a shield that existed to service the very sensible goal of ­self-­preservation. In the West, brave men got killed. Cowards stayed alive.

    Death was everywhere on the frontier.

    "Everything ­that's not you wants you dead," Albert would often say. "Outlaws, Indians, angry gamblers, disgruntled prostitutes, wild animals, the weather, ­disease--­hell, even a trip to the dentist means taking your fucking life in your hands."

    One needed only to glance at the front page of any local newspaper to see the truth in such a point of view:

    INFANT TRAMPLED BY SICKLY MARE

    HUNDREDS PERISH IN LATE SPRING DAMP

    SCHOOLMARM FELLED BY TUMBLEWEED ABRASION

    MASS HANGING GOES WELL

    MUD DEATHS REACH ­30-­YEAR HIGH

    DUTCH FAMILY CRUSHED BY FALLING CHINAMEN

    WOMAN FOUND GUILTY OF ADULTERY; TONGUE, BREASTS REMOVED

    50-­ACRE BUFFALO HERD DESTROYS TOWN

    WATER TOWER CONTAMINATED BY BATHING NEGRESS

    BLACK BEARS FEAST ON KINDERGARTEN CLASS

    HAIL STORM DRIVES SNAKES INTO LOCAL ­CHURCH--­NO SURVIVORS

    Yes, it seemed to Albert that fear was a very useful thing for a man living in the southern Arizona territory.

    So on this blistering hot day he was quite content to once again allow cowardice to insulate him from an early demise.

    He stood at the center of the thoroughfare, gun belt at the ­ready--­or so it appeared. The townsfolk of Old Stump lined the street, eager as ever to witness that most electrifying of all frontier spectacles: the showdown. But at the moment, Albert stood alone. His opponent was nowhere to be seen, and high noon had officially come and gone. No one spoke, save for the occasional fluttering murmurs of slightly confused anticipation from the onlookers. Dirt farmers watched patiently. Women fanned themselves, desperately attempting to force a few little bursts of air between their numerous layers of clothing. ­Well-­to-­do gentlemen checked their pocket watches and smoked the sort of fine cigars one can only truly enjoy outdoors in 112-­degree weather. Children fidgeted and played idly with their favorite toys, such as apple cores, bits of string, and deceased mice. Dogs lay panting on the ground, no doubt wondering how the fuck any human being could live a ­non-­suicidal existence in such an awful, depressing place.

    Albert tried to avoid eye contact with the surrounding spectators, aside from the occasional shared glance with a strikingly beautiful blond-­haired woman who stood on the steps in front of the general store. She offered him a wan smile, perhaps meant to be reassuring but with a seemingly dubious degree of conviction.

    And then, at last, they heard the sound of approaching hoofbeats. Very faint and distant at first, then more distinct, until finally a man rode into view at the opposite end of the thoroughfare. He slowed his horse with a sharp yank on the reins that appeared to startle the animal, though it came to an obedient halt. The man dismounted and moved with a decided lack of urgency into position at the end of the street.

    Albert stiffened and regarded his opponent. Charlie Blanche and Albert Stark could not have been more contrasting in their deportment: Blanche was a grizzled, ­weathered-­looking mass of aggression, who looked as though he ­hadn't smiled since the days of Lewis and Clark. He glared at Albert with an expression that...

About the Author-
  • Seth MacFarlane is an animator, writer, producer, director, actor, and singer. He is the creator of the show Family Guy and co-creator of American Dad!, for which he also voices many of the shows' various characters. He is the executive producer of the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. MacFarlane's film Ted is the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time, and he is the co-writer, producer, director, and star of the film A Million Ways to Die in the West. As a singer, MacFarlane has released a Grammy-nominated album of American standards, Music Is Better Than Words. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

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