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Reviews 385 everything from incest (“Sahara”) to homicidal violence (‘Johnny Winkler”)— proof of a deeper and more pervasive evil than at first suspected. If all this seems too pessimistic, one will be cheered by the fact that Braun, at her best, can transform her fascination with the dark side of experience into small comic masterpieces. Braun has been compared to Flannery O’Connor, and surely the association is apt, though O’Connor’s use of the Gothic is more pronounced. Braun ‘s satirical targets are often the same as O’Connor’s: hypoc­ risy and religious fanaticism in ‘Johnny Winkler” and “The Pumpkin-Eaters,” pride and willful ignorance in “‘Bridge Out’.”The latter, in fact, reads like an inspired parody ofO’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”The surprise that awaits Braun’s newlyweds at the end of the road isn’t the Misfit, but it isjust as deadly and just as self-ordained. Although not all the stories here are gems, there are rewards for the reader—Braun’s sensitive portrait of the elderly in “Glass Floats,” her celebra­ tion of adolescent mischiefin “The Silvercreek Cemetery Society”— even when the conflict turns out to be nothing more than a false alarm, or else is too subtle or too trivial to sustain the mounting tension. Overall, the stories in The Pumpkin-Eaters are grim but also quite funny at times; strange, if not resonantly eerie. There is even a very bizarre UFO tale, which will make anyone think twice before romanticizing about a home on the wide open prairie. PAUL HADELLA Southern Oregon State College Old Southwest Humor from the St. Louis Reveille, 1844-1850. Edited with an introduction by Fritz Oehlschlaeger. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1990. 282 pages, $27.00.) During its short life, the St. Louis Reveillewas a major outlet for the strain of frontier writing that we now call Southwest humor. Oehlschlaeger’s volume presents previously uncollected pieces by the paper’s principle contributors— Charles Keene, Matthew and Joseph Field, Solomon Smith, John Robb, et al. The anthology is loosely organized according to Cohen and Dillingham’s anatomy of Southwest humor, with chapters focusing on hoaxes and predica­ ments, the river, eccentric characters, satire, “ring-tailed roarers” (half animal, half human figures) and tall tales, frontier theater, sketches from the Mexican War, and dialect letters. In his introduction, Oehlschlaeger suggests that the Reveillewriters gave Southwest humor a unique inflection. The Reveille humor, he notes, is less grotesque and crude, more satirical, and less occupied with social class than the work of the best-known Southwest humorists like George Washington Harris and Henry Clay Lewis. Oehlschlaeger also provides brief biographical sketches ofthe writers, many ofwhom engaged in frontierjournal­ 386 WesternAmerican Literature ism as part of a much broader effort to bring “arts” to the frontier. Carefully edited, Old Southwest Humorfrom the St. Louis Reveille represents a valuable contribution to an area that has long fascinated both literary scholars and historians. BRIAN COLLINS University ofCalifornia, Santa Cruz Un-Due West.ByRoland Sodowsky. (San Antonio: Corona Publishing, 1990.151 pages, $8.95.) A cover blurb compares Un-Due West to the work of Garrison Keillor, but a better comparison would be to the work of J. Frank Dobie.J. Frank Dobie on locoweed, that is. A collection of fabricated folklore set in the mythical Texas town of Lindisfarne, Un-Due Westattempts to poke fun at the folklore and myth of the cowboy, but the result is more precious than funny. The fourteen chapters that comprise the bulk of Un-Due West offer convo­ luted folk-histories of everything from the cowboy boot (brought to Texas by New Englanders who dropped the nuts they gathered into their boots’ high, open tops) to the art of “knobity” (poetic finger signals flashed at on-coming motorists without removing one’s hands from the steering wheel). These fic­ tional folk-histories are connected by five running chapters detailing the long­ est and least-bloody gunfight in history. The author also includes a glossary of Lindisfarne lingo. “Spurgellants,” for example, are defined as, “Contrite cow­ boys who punish themselves with their spurs.” Though the contrite cowboys of Lindisfarne punish themselves, they...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 385-386
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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