Do writers of Westerns have the same discussions about mainstream acceptance that (some) science fiction writers do? That is, if there are any of them left--it's not exactly a jumping genre just now.
And I don't usually read it, though over the past couple of years I've learned to enjoy Western movies (with Rio Bravo a particular favorite). But I'm reading Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, and enjoying it a great deal. Is it because it somehow transcends its genre? I don't know enough to say. But readers of a genre like its particular flavor, and will consume even inferior examples to get it, while non-genre readers wanting to try the flavor need a dish that includes ingredients they're more used to getting, in terms of plot, characterization, or presentation of information. McMurtry lets us in gently.
And it's a long book, usually something that irritates me. But it gives me stuff I like, like this bit. Call, a sober former Texas Ranger who is recruiting young men for a big cattle drive, has lunch with a mother whose sons he wants to hire:
"This is my varmint stew, Captain," Maude said.
"Oh," he asked politely, "what kind of varmints?"
"Whatever the dogs catch," Maude said. "Or the dogs themselves, if they don't manage to catch nothing. I won't support a lazy dog."
"She put a possum in," one of the little girls said. She seemed as full of mischief as her fat mother, who, fat or not, had made plenty of mischief among the men of the area before she settled on Joe.
"Now, Maggie, don't be giving away my recipes," Maude said....
Humor, disappointment, suspense, and ambition, with a mix of characters and eccentrics. Just like what I try to achieve in my own genre.