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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 are too sensitive to use spurs on their beloved horses, whom they sometimes carry rather than ride. Lindisfarne cowboys also eat quiche, give their cows names like “Persephone” and “Anastasia,” and refuse to castrate calves. These precious Lindisfarne cowboys are eloquent, too, as exemplified bythe cowboywho says of riding fence, “It’s like reading an ever burgeoning epic, viewing a vast Van Gough, and listening to a Copland symphony at the same time.”There is some humor to be had from endowing the stereotypical cowboy with drawing room sensibilities and manners, but there is not enough humor in this to sustain an entire book. The truth is that most of the jokes in Un-Due West are ridden too hard. For example, the author deadens the mildly funny phrase “Texas Occi­ dent” by repeating it about 151 times, and he also overdoes the joke of giving cowboys combination Hispanic/Anglo names. While one Cesar Hamaker or Randall Sanchez may be funny, the joke gets old after twenty or so similarly named cowboys have been introduced. Readerswho laugh at the whimsical and the far-fetched will get a kick out of Reviews 387 Un-Due West. Those who like their humor to rise naturally from realistic situa­ tions will do better to seek their laughs some place other than Lindisfarne, Texas Occident. DONALD A. BARCLAY New Mexico State University Visions. By Michael Fillerup. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990. 208 pages, $9.95.) Michael Fillerup’s stories are filled with their author’sgenuine compassion for ordinary people and their problems and triumphs. The ordinary folk whose lives Fillerup delineates so tenderly are Mormons, struggling to be true to the demands oftheir faith, beset by occasional doubts, harried by bills, responsibili­ ties and weather but persevering nevertheless. Nearly all the characters share the physical, emotional fatigue described by the father in “Family Plantation Day”: “At thirty-nine, things are happening to me now I never would have fathomed ten or even five years ago. Parts are beginning to wear out. My ignition’sbad. I sometimes run out ofgas before the finish line.” Some experience more extreme self-doubts, like the missionary protagonist in “Hozhoogo Nanina Doo”: “I’ve had to pray and conduct meet­ ings with my own curses still ringing in my ears. And don’t think that’snot hard, pasting a smile on your face and shaking hands and trying to look as if all’swell in Zion when you feel like a cesspool inside.” Despite the demonstrable compassion with which these lives are given voice and form, and despite Fillerup’s ear for dialogue and eye for southwestern landscape, the stories frequently disappoint. In “AGame ofInches”the narrator comes home from work to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 386-387
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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