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356 Western American Literature But once into the Depression, or the Rampage as her mother called it, the short stays in a succession of dusty, decaying towns, interspersed with one-night stopovers in temporary roadside camps, blurred together in her mind and deprived her of any certainty as to where she was, even whether she was on the Oklahoma or Texas side of the border. And so place became of primary importance, somewhere she could feel connected to, where she could form a chain of memories. I read this book shortly after viewing the seven-part PBS documentary on the Great Depression. While reading, I saw again the scenes that had so vividly depicted the despair of many Americans during that time. Moore’s characters experienced the displacement of people in the Midwest who suffered the double tragedy of a severe national recession and drought. With no crops in the fields and jobs disappearing in the towns and cities, many families were forced to live in their cars or in tents, and to stay on the road, taking whatever work anyone could offer. For Moore’s narrator, this life meant attending school after school, some of them for only one day, and leaving behind, one after another, every hastily formed acquaintance that seemed to hold the promise of a yearned-for friendship. She sensed the desperation of the grownups, and the humiliation her parents felt when they were forced to ask more fortunate relatives for help. She suffered the physical effects of malnutrition, but more lasting was the psychological effect of a childhood without roots. Thus, as a widow trying to determine how and where she will live the remainder of her years, she seeks to understand her past before she sets the course of her future. And place must be the focus of her attention. Despite Moore’s vivid depiction of time and place, she isn’t able to reach into the depths of her narrator’s soul for those subtleties of half-formed, half­ understood thought that are the core of being. Nor does she develop full personalities for other characters, especially needed in the portrayals of the child’s parents. The book does not have the gritty realism of The GrapesofWrath or the haunting quality of the memorable photographs taken by Dorothea Lange. Nevertheless, Moore tells a compelling story, and viewed as a work of historical fiction, the book is several cuts above the many novels that deceive rather than enlighten us about our past. It should be read. ROSEMARYWHITAKER Colorado State University The OwlIn Monument Canyon and OtherStoriesfrom Indian Country. ByH.Jackson Clark. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993. 192 pages, $24.95/ $14.95.) In the foreword to this collection of memoirs, Terry Tempest Williams describes the author as a raconteur whose “roots are deep and secure in this region. . . . He is native.” Reviews 357 Afourth generation Coloradoan, born in Durango in 1924,Jackson Clark’s first guide to the hinterlands ofthe Four Corners was his father. Nattily dressed in a coat and tie, Fred Clark would load the family into a 1933 brown four-door Buick sedan. “Iwonder what’sup that road,”he was known to sayas he drove his family out to the edge of the map, introducing them to places like Shiprock, Chaco Canyon, and the Lukachukai Mountains. Although Jackson Clark admits that as a boy some of these expeditions seemed hot and dusty and interminably long, it is clear that he inherited his father’s appreciation of the region and his lust for exploring it. “I could read a map,”Clark writes, “before I could read a book.” In this collection of essays drawn from more than fifty years of travel through the Four Corners country, Clark meets legendary figures like John Wetherill, one of the brothers who discovered Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde. He witnesses one of the last public appearances of Buckskin Charley, the great Ute chief, who rides off into the night after a pipe-smoking ceremony at a Durango Chamber of Commerce gathering. He listens to the yarns of Harry Goulding, the homesteader who convinced directorJohn Ford to film his western epics in Monument Valley...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 356-357
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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