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76 Western American Literature In New Mexico, however, the ethnic balance was more nearly equal, and the conflicts often evolved into long term skirmishing, as demonstrated by a lengthy account of the struggle for control of the Maxwell Land Grant. Rosenbaum condones the violence as acts of self-preservation from a conquered people, chosen from among culturally-acceptable options. He does not, however, provide much substantiating background for the role of violence in mexicano culture. He comes down hard on the Texas Rangers and the “myth of the Alamo” for what he sees as almost congenital racism on the part of Anglo Texans. One wonders whether the Anglos, recognized intruders in an often hostile territory, might not have used similar claims of self-preservation for some of their violent actions. In the final section, the beginnings of political action by mexicanos are traced, and the author holds out the hope that in the future, the people will yet overcome the “regional and class orientations” which divide them and emerge as the “political movement of the future” in numbers and strength capable of claiming the right to cultural diversity which they seem­ ingly lost in the last century, despite those acts of resistance recorded in this provocative book. DOROTHY SCHMIDT, Pan American University 40 Years’ Gatherin’s. By Spike Van Cleve. (Kansas City: The Lowell Press, 1977. 319 pages, $11.95.) Chinning at the Cooke City General Store one snowy day last December, I first heard about Spike Van Cleve from friends who had attended the Montana writers’ conference the previous summer. He had been one of the featured authors, along with another native son, Ivan Doig. At the meetings he was already familiar as a genial raconteur and proprietor of the Lazy K Bar Ranch, one of the oldest and largest dude ranches in Montana. I knew few ranchers and no authors whose first name is Spike, but determined to remedy the deficiency, and not long afterwards found 40 Years’ Gatherin’s and brightened my winter reading it. I found a book that comes across with the quick, casual warmth of a western handshake, very folksy and friendly and with a strong personal flavor. It consists of a series of sketches taken from his recollections of the highly kinetic ranching life in the Melville country where he was born and has spent his life. They are quick-studies, for the most part, some of them only a paragraph, of the events (moving cattle, tending dudes, rodeoing) ; family members, especially Dad, scratchy and tough as a cedar post and who died with the bark still on; neighbors, like the stubborn Norwegians from “the settlement” and the emigré English gentry who cheerfully traded four reins Reviews 77 for two when they “took up” land in the West. But especially it is an affec­ tionate remembrance of notable horses, a lot of good ones and a few bad ones of the sort he calls “boogers.” This man knows his horses and writes about them with lyrical metonymy: Now Two Layer was a popping good looking, beautifully put together paint that we’d raised out of an old Indian mare and a remount stud. Fine gaited and nice handling, too. Trouble was, he was insane. Not weedy, just plain insane! There wasn’t one of us in the crew that he hadn’t bedded down at least once, and it was never a question as to if he’d buck, just when he’d buck. The early Melville that he remembers with partisan affection both tough and tender “had a post office, two stores, two saloons, a church, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, and perhaps half a dozen homes. . . . There was a livery, bam, a stage barn, and a dance hall too.” We have seen the counterpart of Melville in scores of films, books, and television programs. A small patch of civilization on the great wide open, under the big sky. Earth, sky, wind and sun shape experience in this country, and these sketches are illustrative of the precarious relationship of man to nature. The homesteaders who came to fence and plow mostly starved out, though Van Cleve acknowledges that it took nearly thirty...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 76-77
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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