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Reviews 317 boredom of the hiking.” As the boredom, the confinement, the clash of personalities increased, so did the arguing.“I felt so frustrated by the weather that I had to get angry at something; Don was the nearest object and the only one capable of response.” Life in a moisture-laden tent generated arguments, but the chance to climb brings the two close again, "we felt friendly again — painfully friendly, like lovers after a quarrell”. “I felta piercing joy — Don was the only one in the world with whom I could haveclimbed like this; in fact, there were few people anywhere who could do this as capably as we.” The fact that the eastern ridge of Mt. Deborah proved unclimbable was not overwhelming to Dave and Don, “The mountain had been fair to us; it had unequivocally said Stop.” The hike out was as perilous as climbing; twice Don fell into crevasses, suffering serious sprains and cuts. In addition to the arguments, Roberts describes dreams of huge ban­ quets while penned in a small tent and limited to dehydrated food. The reaction to animal tracks on the ridge near the tent is not unlike Robinson Crusoe’s to Friday’s prints on his desert island. As with Marshall, Roberts reminds us that one does not escape the self in the wilderness. Both these books display the complex interaction that exists between man and nature. Both make clear that the dominant element is man’s psyche. Both are emphatically honest and entertaining reading. Jo h n B oni, Colorado State University Calked Boots and Other Northwest Writings. By Bert Russell. (Harrison, Idaho: Lacon Publishers, 1967. 223 pages, $6.95; paper, $4.75.) Russell’s collection of 26 stories and three articles derives primarily from the lumberjack region of North Idaho. Although this beautiful land of mountains and lakes has few literary monuments, Russell has chosen to keep the natural setting secondary to his interest in character. Here are tales of lumberjacks, sawmill workers, farmers, forest rangers, vagabonds, and small town folk. Russell’s focus is on social problems: the plight of women (effectively shown in the title story), religious bigotry (“The Baptism,” a very funny story), discrimination against immigrants (“Pat Luciano”) , the evils of war (“The Hero”) , the corrosive effects of monotonous work in the mills (“The Tormentor”), the violence of which all men are capable if pushed far enough (“The Tough Guy”) . Some of the best stories reveal “ordinary” men who erupt when they are tormented by their peers or by those in authority, and those who resort to sadistic teasing when they are frustrated by boredom, monotony, nothing to challenge mind or body. These 318 Western American Literature stories give a very real sense of the way-of-life of the working people in a sparsely populated, provincial area, and they are told with humor and restraint. The greatest weakness of Russell’s tales is that, for all the focus on character, the characterizations are too sketchy. In part this is due to the limited format: Russell uses an anecdotal, episodic approach. Some of the "stories” are only two pages long, while the longest tale (“The Story of Jack Lynch”) is primarily a collection of anecdotes. Also, the characters are usually depicted from the point of view of an observer, and Russell gives us little beyond the detached, impersonal narration to go on in our efforts to get inside the characters. Then, too, his endings sometimes seem like awkward efforts to finish a story that hasn’t moved toward a destined con­ clusion. Nevertheless, these stories deserve attention for their local color aspects. Also, their very existence in print is a tribute to western initiative and deter­ mination. Russell couldn’t interest eastern publishers, so he printed his collec­ tion himself, through the St. Maries Gazette Record facilities; his family helped collect and bind the printed pages; Russell marketed them to bookstores in the Northwest and sent copies to newspapers for reviews. His do-it-yourself campaign has not made him rich, but he has managed to pay his print­ ing bills and reap a small profit. His popularity in northern Idaho suggests that his stories indeed communicate...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 317-318
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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