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72 Western American Literature novel, has begun to fulfill the ecological vision: in-place, steady-state, lowenergy living; small, employee-owned companies; libertarian social contract: in all things, ecological accounting. Ecotopia Emerging is an angry, hopeful, intelligent, accurate tract. It is an honest attempt at practicality: as the sequel to Ecotopia (1976), which was a sort of Looking Backward in green, it tries to show in detail how an ecologically responsible society might actually come about. But it is not a very good novel, as a novel. It’s simply too programmatic. Some of the ecotopians are so righteous they border on the insufferable — particularly the solar-cell inventor, who plans her own “adulthood” ceremony as a tribal ritual. The scene is cloying. It might be argued that this failure in characterization, if such it be, calls into question the humanness of the author’s entire vision. But I wonder if there has ever been a utopian novel which is also a good novel — that is, for a minimum, one that heeds the paradoxes, depth, and occasional plain orneriness of people. Perhaps we face here a fundamental clash of genres. Read as an essay, though, Ecotopia Emerging is instructive. In particular, there is an identity for the West here that is highly interesting. Callenbach’s West is the land of maturity and coming to terms with limits; his East is still lost in frontier-minded dreams of growth and power. THOMAS J. LYON, Utah State University Southwest Fiction. Edited by Max Apple. (New York: A Bantam Book, 1981. xix + 344 pages, $2.95.) The landscape and cultural history of the Southwest have long attracted both artists and writers. As Apple writes in his introduction: The open space, the great distances between places, the hostil­ ity of nature, and the native Indian and Spanish populations — these are the primary characteristics of the Southwest. Yet the cow­ boy is so dominant in the popular imagination that he has over­ shadowed every other aspect of the area. Actually, it makes sense to speak about two different regions of the South­ west, and to divide themes and writers accordingly. On the eastern side there is the range country or plains, dominated by Texas and historically symbolized in literature and myth by the cowboy on his horse, on the move, independent. The modem cowboy, however, leads a schizophrenic existence, encircled by barbed wire and boom-town, dancing out his dream life to mechanical bulls and Willie Nelson. Both eras of the cowboy are represented in this anthology'. Louis L’Amour exploits the stock Reviews 73 materials of the legendary past, while Edward Abbey and Larry McMurtry, with keen ears for dialogue, blend humor and pathos into a common theme. Men who once gloried in the solitary rites of manhood are now emasculated and bev\ildered by the domesticity of families and supermarkets. Past and present come together in an excellent story by John Graves, “The Last Running,” where an old, Comanche Indian, wanting a final hunt for himself and his friends, maneuvers for a rancher’s prime buffalo. The final words of the rancher to his nephew point to the archetypal western theme: Damn you for not ever getting to know anything worth knowing. Damn me, too. We had a world, once. The other region of the Southwest, with its high mesas, mountains and deserts, has a village history which developed along narrow strips of fertile land bordering streams and rivers, most notably the Rio Grande. Outside of the Sunbelt cities it is economically poor, but rich with traditions and com­ munal ties to a primordial religion of earth and sky. Although neglected in the past, the literature of this region is now being anthologized, and Apple’s selection from this area is good, with two notable absences — Simon Ortiz and Tony Hillerman. Fine samples from older writers like Harvey Fergusson, Conrad Richter and William Eastlake chronicle the conflict and confluence of Anglo, Indian and Hispanic cultures. Tim McCarthy’s “Windmill Man,’’ which was care­ lessly left out of the table of contents, captures the spell of an esoteric occupa­ tion. Younger writers from all three cultures, like Rudolfo Anaya, Leslie Silko, John Nichols and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 72-73
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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