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Reviews 73 On the back of each pamphlet there is a list of Southwestern writers to be included in the series. I am not familiar with some of them, such as William Barner and John Graves; on the other hand, I would like to see included in the series such writers as Hart Stilwell, Sigman Byrd, Dorothy Scarborough, Laura Krey, Mary King, and Dillon Anderson. The series is short on poets, but so is the Southwest. I personally would like to see the scope of the series enlarged and a higher quality imposed. The effort is worthwhile. Orlan Sawey, Pan American College The Mysterious West. By Brad Williams and Choral Pepper. (Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company, 1967. 192 pages, illus. $5.95.) If one is willing to suspend his disbelief for a few hours, The Mysterious West, which the authors dedicate to people “who believe a little bit in every­ thing,” will indeed lead him into some mysteries that make enjoyable reading. Ruins of an ancient Roman city in Arizona? A visit of a group of Phoenicians to New Mexico? There is physical evidence to support both; and if one regards the evidence as a hoax, then he will have to contend with the argu­ ments the authors and other advance to counter the hoax theory. These are but two examples of the kind of material the authors have brought together. “The book,” they say, tells of some of these mysteries, labeled as hoaxes by certain wise men, who, nevertheless, have been unable to offer any reason for the hoax. It tells also of hoaxes over which there can be no doubt as to the motivation, hoaxes so grand in scope as to make by comparison the sale of the Brooklyn Bridge appear as petty larceny” (p. 10). Some of the material is not without value for the student of Western literature. Edwin Corle’s fine novel Fig Tree John, for example, draws upon the Indian view of the formation of the Salton Sea: “It was a big curse, and a warning from the River Spirit that any time he wanted to he could make a bigger curse” (Corle, p. 27). The Mysterious West devotes one chapter to the same subject, beginning with an old Indian legend connected with the greatest flood that ever came to the desert. “One day . . . there appeared a great bird with white wings that moved slowly across the top of the water.” It grounded on some sand, could not get off, and so remained there. The waters subsided “and the great bird fell over on its side and died.” The white 74 Western American Literature wings blew away with the wind, and the bird finally lay buried in sand, which sometimes blew off to reveal what remained of it. “. . . The bird is an omen of evil and harm will come to whoever draws near” (p. 27). Thus the Indian legend. Did a sailing ship ever enter the Salton Sea? Land today blocks passage between it and the upper end of the Gulf of California. But in 1615, the sailing vessel of one Juan de Iturbe, chased by a Dutch corsair, fled north into the Gulf of California. At the upper end at high tide, he was amazed to find a channel which led him into another sea. His maps showed Baja California to be a peninsula, but there was still hope that someone might find the legendary Straits of Anian. De Iturbe thought he had discovered it, but his hopes were shattered. At the latitude of the present Salton Sea, he saw only mountains and foothills in the distance and all around him the sands of a desert. He turned back, but the channel through which he had entered was now only a narrow stream. He was landlocked. There he left the ship and with his crew returned to Mexico on foot. “Was de Iturbe’s ship the great white bird of the Indian legend’ (p. 34)? The skeptics say no. Our authors say perhaps, and show why the legend might be true. Chapter after chapter—seventeen in all—recounts similar puzzling and tantalizing legends. Here are tales about Joaquin Murrieta; about Peg...


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