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256 Western American Literature The chapters recounting James’ start as an artist and his unsuccessful bouts with alcohol are particularly lively. Amaral has evidently done much research. H e has used the pertinent manuscript materials and has also talked to and corresponded with people who knew James. These first-hand sources add authenticity to the book. But the serious student of western literature will be disappointed with Amaral’s biography of James. This dissatisfaction arises not because the subject lacks interest or value but because the author is unable to carry out the bio­ graphical-critical intentions of his volume and because he is an uncertain stylist. Most serious are the author’s limitations as a literary critic. On several occasions he comments on the worth of a piece of James’ writing without giving sufficient reason for his judgments. He attacks the grammatical weak­ nesses of Smoky, for example, without giving illustrative proofs for his point of view. Nor does he set up the critical standards by which he is making his judgments. A final chapter, intended to be a summary critical statement, suffers from vague generalizing. More careful editing should have eliminated the writing errors. Amaral is guilty of too many awkwardly constructed sentences. For example, “The desire to be an artist was within him, but he wasn’t so moved as yet to fight for its full-time devotion (p. 18). Adding to these problems of syntax are the numerous avoidable switches in tense (pp. xi, xii). It is surprising to find so many grammatical errors in a published book. Finally, the writings of James are discussed as if they were in a vacuum. In the 1920-40 period such writers as Zane Grey, Max Brand, Ernest Haycox, and Alan LeMay were turning out Western novels and short stories, and comparisons of their writings with those of James would make Amaral’s critical views more valid and worthwhile. One perceives too often that the author is unacquainted with the trends of Western literature in this century. R ic h a r d W. E t u l a in , Eastern Nazarene College One M ore R iver to Cross. By W ill Henry. (New York: Random House, 1967. 236 pages, $4.95.) Ned Huddleston, alias Isom Dart, was a black cowboy, horse breaker, horsethief, and cattle rustler whose long career took him from Arkansas to Reviews 257 Mexico to Colorado. His life ended in Brown’s H ole in 1900, when he was shot from ambush by “regulator” Tom Horn. Accounts of Huddleston’s adventures and misadventures are scattered, fragmentary, sometimes contradictory. They suggest more than they tell, and they tease a historian with short glimpses of what must have been a sometimes heroic, sometimes pathetic, always complex man. T he dearth of reliable bio­ graphical material helps to make Huddleston a nearly fabulous figure. In One M ore R iver to Cross, W illHenry has taken Ned Huddleston’s career and set out “to follow it in spirit,to mark it in memory, to restore it to its rightful place among the classic strange true tales of the American herit­ age.” And so he has written an exciting novel that is remarkably faithfulto the known facts of the black cowboy’s early life and young manhood. Yetit is unmistakably a novel with all the usual W ill Henry gusto, drive, and crafts­ manship in characterization, action, and dialogue. As a novelist, Henry is somewhat handicapped by his fidelity to available facts. Occasionally characters are introduced who seem to be supernumeraries, unnecessary to move the story or heighten a conflict. They were discovered, one suspects, by conscientious research, and the novelist has used them because they were “really there.” But these are minor, very occasional distractions in an absorbing and unusual novel. T he dramatic resolution of the story’s final conflict could easily occasion the kind of criticism and defense recently provoked by W illiam Styron’s attempt to recreate the life of Nat Turner. Any novelist who deals with the struggles of a black man in a racist society must inevitably make hard choices in the development of character and plot. W ill Henry has faced...


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