Sandhills Boy

The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer

Elmer Kelton

Forge Books

Sandhills Boy is the story of "a freckle-faced country boy, green as a gourd," growing up in the wild sandhills of West Texas and becoming author of many well-loved and critically-acclaimed Western novels: The Time It Never Rained, The Good Old Boys, The Day the Cowboys Quit, and some 50 others.

The son of a working cowboy and ranch foreman, Elmer Kelton learned at an early age that he had no talent for horses nor any of the cowboy’s trade . . . but he did have a knack for story-telling. He graduated from the University if Texas and before becoming "the greatest of all Western writers" (by vote of the Western Writers of America, Inc,) was a soldier in Europe and a journalist in Texas.

Kelton writes with warm, nostalgic humor of his life in ranch and oil patch Texas during the Great Depression of his service in WW2 in France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia, and of the romantic circumstances which changed his life in the village of Ebensee, Austria. At a boat landing there, in October, 1945, he met a young woman, Anni Lipp, who became his wife and remained by his side for 60 years.

Filled with Kelton’s sly humor and memorable anecdotes, Sandhills Boy is destined to be a classic in Western autobiography, a companion to Charlie Siringo’s A Texas Cowboy and We Pointed Them North by Edward. C. "Teddy Blue" Abbott.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One Often when I look in the mirror, the face I see is my cowboy father’s, the same pinched blue eyes, the same mouth and chin, the same ruddy complexion. Our destinies set us on different pathways. He spent his life within a radius of little more than two hundred miles. The farthest he ever traveled was one visit to his mother’s childhood home in Georgia. I have spent time in countries he never saw and gone through experiences he could only imagine, like trudging through the final weeks of a war in Europe, or falling desperately in love with a blue-eyed Fräulein amid


Praise for Sandhills Boy

Praise for Elmer Kelton:

“Elmer Kelton does not write Westerns. He writes fine novels set in the West. Here a reader meets flesh-and-blood people of an earlier time, in a story that will grab you and hold you from the first to the last page."
--Dee Brown, author of the New York Times bestseller Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

"Elmer Kelton is to Texas what Mark Twain was to the Mississippi River."
--Jory Sherman, author of The Barons of Texas

“Elmer Kelton is a Texas treasure."
--El Paso Herald-Post

"Kelton...expands on his reputation with a thoughtful, realistic portrayal of the West in which carefully drawn characters--not gunplay--drive the action. If there’s an heir to the Louis L’Amour legacy, it’s Kelton."

“Elmer Kelton, a wily old cloudburst, imbues his Westerns with ancient myths and modern motifs that transcend cowboys and cattle trails."
--Dallas Morning News

"One of the grand masters of Western literature. A preeminent story-teller, Kelton has been blessed with the ability to create a cast of fictional characters which bring history to life with such honesty and believability that the reader himself literally becomes part of the story. . . . It is Kelton’s understanding of human weaknesses and strengths that makes his writings so captivating. . . ."
--The El Paso Scene

"Voted ‘the greatest Western writer of all time’ by the Western Writers of America, Kelton creates characters more complex than L’Amour’s."
--Kirkus Reviews

"San Angelo novelist Kelton knows intimately the work and ways of the West. That’s why real cowboys love his writing."
--Southern Living

"You can never go wrong if you want to read a good story with realistic characters and you pick up a title by Elmer Kelton. . . . Kelton’s characters jump off the page, they are so real."
--American Cowboy

"Elmer Kelton writes of early Texas with unerring authority. His knowledge of the state’s history is complete, too—drawn from the lives of real people.”
--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Elmer Kelton’s Westerns are not filled with larger than life gunfighters who can shoot spurs off a cowboy’s boots at 100 yards. They are filled with the kind of characters that no doubt made up the West. . . . They are ordinary people with ordinary problems, but Kelton makes us care about them.”

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Elmer Kelton

  • Elmer Kelton of San Angelo, Texas, a native Texan, was author of 50 Western novels and several nonfiction books. Among his best-selling books are The Day the Cowboys Quit, The Time It Never Rained, and the Good Old Boys. He was recognized with countless awards for his work and was honored as the Greatest Western Writer of All Time by the 600-member Western Writers of America, Inc. Mr. Kelton died in August, 2009, at age 83. 

  • Elmer Kelton Jim Bean Professional Photography
    Elmer Kelton


Available Formats and Book Details

Sandhills Boy

The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer

Elmer Kelton



Forge Books