Max Evans (author)

American writer of Western fiction

Max Evans (August 29, 1925) is the native New Mexico author, writer, and film director upon which the Slim Randles book, Ol' Max Evans: The First Thousand Years, and the 2018 documentary film of the same title are based. The 1998 film The Hi-Lo Country and the 1965 film The Rounders were based upon two of his many books.


  • We called them wrecks... And the great mystery in the sky does not allow you to have all that fun unless you have some wrecks.
    • As quoted by Robert Nott, "The 1,000-year-old man: The remarkable story of author Max Evans" (Oct. 13, 2017) Santa Fe New Mexican, also as seen (Oct. 19, 2017) in The Taos News.
  • For me, the code of the West is simple. You never let a friend down... ever. And you don't go after your enemies if they leave you alone.
    You can live a long time on those two things.
    • As quoted by Slim Randles, Ol' Max Evans: The First Thousand Years (2004)

The Rounders (1960, 2010)

  • Jim Ed Love is a very funny name for a man who likes nothing better than to see a cowboy get what little he's got get kicked out by a rawboned, walleyed, bucking, ground-stopping bronc.
  • I could see... that there was healed-over spur marks in that old pony's shoulder. That could mean just one thing. Trouble. I had worked for outfits that gave spoiled horses like that one away just to keep from crippling up good cowboys.
  • He ain't no cowboy, this Ed Love, but he is a cowman. ...He can dicker for six days and nights for one-fourth cent cent a pound for his beef. He can get more work from and give less pay to a cowboy than anybody I ever saw.
  • Now, to make horse breaking easy you need two cowboys—one on the bronc and one on a gentle, well-broke horse. This way if the bronc tries to cut your leg off on a barbwire fence or jump off a bluff, your partner can ride in front of him or gather up your hackamore reigns.
  • He looked just like a groundhog coming up for air when he crawled out of his bedroll in the morning, and he didn't look a hell of a lot better now... His legs was bowed so bad that if you was to straighten them up he would be twice as tall.
  • I had my right hand around that saddle horn like it was the doorknob to heaven's gate, and my right elbow was crimped down over my hipbone like a vise. I was pulling on the them hackamore reigns like I was dragging a pot of gold out of a deep well. But it just didn't do any good. That son of a... bogged his head and jumped way off toward the Arizona border and came down hard on his front legs, driving them in the ground plumb to bedrock, the way it felt to me. The next jump was just as high and just as long, but when he drove into the ground again he was headed for the Texas border, and in between that old roan horse was sure tearing hell out of New Mexico.
  • It was about three miles by bird travel to the gate opening into home pasture. That was where Old Fooler was headed. He was still bucking, and I could see those stirrups clanging together over his back. Then he disappeared over the rise and there wasn't a thing to keep me company but one little white cloud about a thousand miles off over the northern mountains. I saw that cloud when I looked up at the sky and asked the Lord to please not let me kill myself and to give me the wings of an angel so I could fly after that horse and break his ...dam neck.

Bluefeather Fellini (1993, 1994, 2007)

  • One from the Heart for... My wife Pat, my number one critic, who also suffered safely through all those long decades of my taking notes, thinking and figuring on Bluefeather Fellini, and then the five and a half years of actually writing it down. ...Also, much appreciation for the painting you created for the cover.
    • Bluefeather Fellini (1993)
  • One from the Heart for... Frederico Fellini, the great director who taught me to feel the color, see the sound, and hear the unsaid in such great films as LaStrada, LaDolceVita, and 81/2.
    • Bluefeather Fellini (1993)
  • One from the Heart for... Those deeply loved and influential amigos and amigas who have gone on the "Long Adios", including my mother, Hazel, who taught me to read, and love it, before I started school. Wiley (Big Boy) Hittson, whose brief life of daring courage, total loyalty and sudden shocking death by gunfire inspired my novel TheHighLoCountry. Luz Martinez, the "Santero" who followed me to Taos and carved cedarwood into permanent beauty and dignity. Woody Crumbo, the great pioneer Pottawatomie Indian artist, who became my artistic and spiritual mentor and whose spirit is in every chapter of this book. And finally, our little dog Foxy...
    • Bluefeather Fellini (1993)
  • It was a time of youthful jubilation, and Bluefeather Fellini—the chosen one—knew that never, never, never before had anyone been so blessed. In just a few days, they would be rich...
  • For decades the old prospector had walked the sizzling southwestern deserts, climbed the jagged mountains, chewed the dust, dodged the blizzards without complaint or defeat.
  • He was always grinding on forward... Grinder... observed Bluefeather through slit, knowing eyes. The quality he looked for was definitely there. It... was obvious in the alert, almost regal, manner he carried his head and the way he climbed the Taos mountains with a long-stepped, but smooth, attacking stride. ...Bluefeather Fellini was from the people of yearning. Whenever one walks or rides with yearners, the world becomes generous with great gifts of almost ceaseless adventure—and makes one pay terrible prices for the ultimate joys. Grinder knew this... for he was a grinder himself.

Madam Millie (2002)


: Bordellos from Silver City to Ketchikan

  • This was the most difficult book I have ever put together. No matter how I checked out some of the wild stories—wild by their locale, time of occurrence and nature of her business—they were not only unutterably true, but actually understated in some cases.
    • Preface: To the Life and Times of Silver City Millie
  • I will now hope for the near impossible: that the essence of her bravery, the dedication and suffering she afforded those she loved, and above all that indomitable will to have a good laugh no matter where the stones fell, will be as indelible to the reader as they are to me.
    • Preface: To the Life and Times of Silver City Millie
  • The story of Silver City Millie is the story of one woman's personal tragedies and triumphs as an orphan, a Harvey Girl waitress on the Santa Fe railroad, a prostitute with innumerable paramours, and a highly successful bordello businesswoman. Millie broke the mold in so many ways, and yet her life story of survival was not unlike that of thousands of women who went West...
  • Silver City Millie contains sordid details and frank language that will make many readers blush, but before her bawdy, drunken life is condemned, readers must become aware of the full context of prostitution in the American West. It was like motherhood and apple pie. It was expected, condoned, appreciated, and segregated. ...The ratio of men to women in the frontier West was frequently seven to one.

For the Love of a Horse (2007)

  • I was amazed to discover my award-winning racehorse story, "Showdown at Hollywood Park," was a short sequel to the famed "Seabiscuit" story.
    Also I had two more, over 90 percent true, stories that I slightly fictionalized... "My Pardner" was one of these. ...Sam Peckinpah... loved "My Pardner." He optioned it many times over. ...I traded him "My Pardner" for The Hi-Lo Country so I could get a Martin Scorsese, Stephen Frears' film made. ...This book brought about the very last conversation I ever had with Peckinpah—two weeks before his untimely death. He was on his way to Acapulco... and pressed for time, but promised that on his return he would sign all film rights for "My Pardner" back to me. But... he died, and it never happened.
    • Introduction
  • THE HORSE (and the mule—which is half horse) had given more to mankind than all the rocket scientists, presidents (all forms), dictators and financial geniuses with all their billions of dollars combined. The horse's hold on mankind, joining in all human glories and foibles, could actually fill many great libraries.
  • On Glorietta Mesa south of Santa Fe, I went to work on a cow ranch about three months before my twelfth birthday. Almost everyone—in this time and place—was so poor that it was a common practice for ranchers to loan themselves and/or their hired hands out to help each other—especially with big jobs like branding and roundups, and even fence building. It made survival possible.
  • When I was still a teenager, I acquired a small, well-watered (with springs) ranch in northeastern New Mexico. It was located fourteen miles east of the village of Des Moines—which I would later call "Hi-Lo" in my many writings and a major film. ...In those poor struggling days, coyote hides would bring from five to fifteen dollars—a ton of money at the time.
  • I was having more trouble putting a rein, a stop, and instilling "rope and cow sense" in this horse than ever before. ...She literally loved and lived to run after the dogs as they ran down one of the smartest creatures ever born. She must have had the ancient genes of some great general's best war horse for she had a true blood lust. Molly loved to watch the dogs' fangs still a freshly caught coyote.
  • I left the heart of the Hi-Lo country, and went to Taos. I bought some sub-irrigated land and a house and moved there amongst the founders and old masters of the famed art colony. I also obtained my first Taos horse, Brownie. ...for the thiry dollars I paid Horse Thief Shorty for him, he turned out to be quite a buy. ...Brownie was pretty darn good at everyting, outstanding at none, but a loyal friend all the way. A partner. ...I rank him pretty high for that priceless underrated loyalty. ...I would ride him for pure pleasure. We would move across the great sagebrush desert on top of the west mesa where the Taos Pueblo Indians held their annual, ancient horseback rabbit hunt.

War & Music: A Medley of Love (2010)

  • The beast of war belches and passes almost endless odors. There is the acrid smell of freshly detonated gunpowder and burnt steel. There is the sweet scent of newly freed blood misting above the dead, dying, and mutilated bodies, little red streams forming pools that begin to turn brownish as they seep into the bruised earth. There is a special combined smell when a shell penetrates, explodes, and sets fire to a tank—a mixture of steel, powder, human flesh, bone, and blood, gasoline and oil, clothing, and stained and torn family photos.
    There is the unforgettable stench of bodies long past the first discovery of flies. This is a forever odor. So is the scent of villages, towns, and cities burning.
  • Jiggs loved playing his old Victrola in the early evening and often asked Ty to sit with him and listen. The music wasn't always what Ty was exactly interested in, but he listened to please his grandfather. ...Accidentally he found out that reading was allowed while listening to great music. His grandparents had read to him regularly and insisted that Ty read some of the classics.
  • Jiggs, with his sharp, dark eyes smiling from a weather-seared face, used to say, "I tell you what, son, if a man is real lucky he'll find that what he wants to do is what he likes to do. That is, of course, if he's lucky enough to take the time to discover it."
  • As beginning buddies do, Ty had casually mentioned that he'd overheard his grandfather saying to his grandmother, "That Ty is always running for the far horizon, but it keeps moving ahead of him," and Martha had answered as always in his favor, "Yes he is. And someday he'll catch it, and it'll be downhill from then on."
  • Several times, Emilio had taken Ty to the mountains to fish for trout. ...The gurgling, forever-twisting little snowmelts coursing, playing, singing over millions of differently shaped stones deeply fascinated a young man from the dry, flat plains of Lea County. It was a gift of beauty sparkling in the sunlight to out glimmer all the diamonds in the world. ...He would have wagered on it. Emilio had introduced him to a ceaseless wonder. ...and the fishing was almost as exciting. He could never stop marveling that these small streams could be home to foot-long brown and rainbow trout.
  • Emilio said "I'm swearing you to secrecy, amigo, and I feel guilty for telling you... There is a secret room in our basement where both mom and dad go to worship in Jewish. They even light the menorah there during Hanukahh."
    Ty made a zipping motion over his mouth and said, "It stays here, amigo."

Quotes about Evans

  • I can see why the two men liked and admired each other. Max had been a cowboy, a soldier, a smuggler, a painter, and, most importantly, a storyteller. Sam had been a would-be cowboy, a soldier, a would-be smuggler, a director, and, most importantly, a storyteller. They were roughly the same age when they met up early in 1962, and they both achieved success in their respective fields—Peckinpah in film, Evans in literature—within a few years of each other. Perhaps Sam filled the void that the death of Big Boy Hittson... created for Max after Big Boy was shot by his younger brother in the late 1940s...
    • Robert Nott, Goin' Crazy with Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends (2014) cowritten by Evans & Nott, Introduction.
  • Max was born in Ropes, Texas, in 1924. Not long afterwards, Hazel and W. B., founded a town called Humble City in New Mexico's far southeastern Lea County. He left here for the Hi-Lo country of northeastern New Mexico when he was about twelve years old. An infantry veteran of World War II combat, he tackled a number of career options before... the 1960 publication of his breakthrough novel, The Rounders...
    • Robert Nott, Goin' Crazy with Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends (2014) cowritten by Evans & Nott, Introduction.
  • A new documentary about his life, Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years... Made by Lorene Mills, Paul Barnes, and David Leach... paints a lively portrait... a man who worked as a cowboy, rancher, soldier, miner, con man, painter, mystic, and writer. He is also a seeker and a survivor. The monkey business didn’t kill him. Neither did the bottle, D-Day, bad reviews, a busted bank account, or the various men who bested him in windswept barrooms or dusty desert streets. He’s written about 30 published works (he tries to count them up, but can’t quite get the sum right), seen two film adaptations come out of two of those works, rubbed shoulders with the Hollywood likes of Sam Peckinpah and Fess Parker, and earned a number of literary awards.
    • Robert Nott, "The 1,000-year-old man: The remarkable story of author Max Evans" (Oct. 10, 2017) The Taos News

Ol' Max Evans: The First Thousand Years (2004)

By Slim Randles
  • In the wondrous brew that makes up life, that novel, The Rounders, created a bittersweet effect on Max Evans' life. It made his reputation. Despite a lifetime of writing perhaps the finest literature ever written about life in the West, it is still this one book about two cowboys who can't seem to win but refuse to lose that people tend to remember best. It brought Max his first real money, his first real fame, his first movie.
  • Max Evans was once an eleven-year-old cowboy... in the foothills of New Mexico. For years he lived the life, roped the calves, rode the horses, drank the booze, fought the fights. He spent his nights reading in the bunkhouse too.
    And then he taught himself to be an artist, and later he taught himself to be a novelist.
    Literature about the real West has never been the same...
  • [O]ne of [my] students said his father was a Santa Fe cop who had arrested Max for "cutting down all the stop signs in Santa Fe."
    Max later admitted going on a... mission... as a way of avoiding getting more traffic tickets... As he put it, "Hell, I didn't get more than half of them cut down before they caught me."