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352 Western American Literature horses and cattle, pastels in his natural backdrops with a knowing eye, character­ izes with Dickensian tags, lets us smell the men’swork close up, and balances his plot with mathematical precision. One third of the way through his eighteen chapters, deadly action explodes. To pivot the second half, a lawman and an agent ofrevenge enter. At the two-thirds mark, Gene, feeling incomplete, wants to “go out of himself.” Not being a traditional shoot-’em-up, One-Eyed Cowboy Wild has as its most stylish feature dialogue which is simply superb—natural, easy, crackling, reveal­ ing, laconic. The novel rewards rc-reading, for only then can we appreciate its patterns of foreshadowing and its use of key words such as “burden,” “eagle,” “gate,” “lucky,” and “trail.” Though fitted with a poignant finale, the openendedness of the work hints at the possibility of a sequel. Let’s hope so. ROBERT L. GALE University ofPittsburgh The Temptations ofSt. Ed & BrotherS. ByFrank Bergon. (Reno: The University of Nevada Press, 1993. 220 pages, $18.95.) Editor, scholar, and author Frank Bergon has committed his considerable intellectual talents and compassionate heart to illuminating the story of the American West. Among other books, he has edited an abridged version of the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition and written a first novel about a tragic historical encounter between white settlers and Shoshone Indians. Bergon’s new novel is a compelling parable about the folly inherent in the religion of Progress. The Temptations ofSt. Ed & BrotherS crackles with energy, both spiritual and nuclear. More a vast stage for the interplay of antithetical ideas than a human drama, Temptations nonetheless offers an intriguing cast of characters that includes a foul-mouthed abbot; a misogynistic Vietnam vet; a LasVegas stripper; a drug-crazed test site worker; a lumberjack turned monk; a Chicana forestry worker turned abbess; an Episcopal priest turned nuclear energy spokesman; and peyote-eating members of the Native American Church. As the book opens, St. Ed, whose Cisterian Trappist Hermitage is next to a nuclear test site, takes the boldly secular step of pushing the religious life on a Las Vegas talk show. Tenacious as a pit bull and sleazy as a polyester g-string, host Nathan Spock punctuates the interview with commercials for the Pleasure Dome Casino’s hot new adult revue and questions about nuclear energy. St. Ed counters with sloganeering: “Nobody said it was easy to be a good monk in the age of postmodernism”and “It is spiritual energy that interests me, not nuclear energy.” In Temptations, the contest between spiritual energy and nuclear energy, between religion and science, proves to be an uneven one. Yet June Mosho, Reviews 353 whose people claim the Shoshone Mountain waste repository as a sacred site, and the monks who live near the mountain, put up a passionate fight against the Department of Energy. The narrative “fallout”that ensues proves both humor­ ous and horrifying. Bergon’s fine new novel suggests that monastic practice in the nuclear age demands a combination of asceticism and activism, and that blind faith in science maywell lead to a spiritual as well as a physical wasteland. ELIZABETH BLAIR The University ofIllinois at Chicago Footloose on the Santa Fe Trail. By Stephen May. (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1993. 140 pages, $19.95/$12.95.) Personal and engaging, May’s book is useful to general readers as an introduction to the overlapping lives ofa number oftraders, military personnel, and adventurers on the Santa Fe Trail in 1846-47, at the beginning of the Mexican War. May interweaves historical narrative with an account of his own walk along the 200-mile stretch of the Trail between Bent’s Fort, Colorado, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Gabriel Wiggins apart, the historical players will be familiar to many readers: Francis Parkman, Henry Chatillon, Samuel and Susan Shelby Magoffin, Ceran St. Vrain, Stephen Watts Kearny, Charles and William Bent, Lewis Garrard, and George Frederick Ruxton. Wiggins, whose personal diary May discovered by chance, was a carpenter in the Army of the West and shot afellow soldier in Santa Fe. Mayromantically imagines him a fugitive in the Sangre de Cristo mountains...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 352-353
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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